Popular Versus Scholarly Military History

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Handgrenade of the Month February 2016
John T. Kuehn

Popular versus Scholarly Military History

Just a short one this month.   Popular military history versus scholarly military history,  ideally one should try to write both, right?  Or wrong?

My position, I believe any historian worth the name needs to try and write in both milieus.  But how much?   Of course, personal preferences play a role, but the public needs good history now more than ever I should think.   Should one try to come up with syntheses a la Rick Atkinson that blend both?  What is the primary distinguisher between them?  Is it simply that popular military history has less argument and focuses more on narrative and human interest?   I am interested in various schools of thought.

Caveat,  I thought about labeling the opposing component of the dichotomy “academic” military history, but I think what I was going for was not so much academics writing military history, but any seriously researched military history that is trying to bring something new to the table, so I labeled it scholarly instead.

Mardi Gras Approaches!   Laissez le bon temps roulez!
Jean (John) Kuehn
Platte City, MO (which was part of Louisiana at one time)

First of all, we need definitions of both types of history--at least this strictly amateur historian needs some definitions.! I only qualify as a historian because I read a lot of history--but now I am not sure what types I have been reading. I have read Mr. Atkinson's books and I have just completed the first two volumes of Ian Toll's trilogy on the War in the Pacific. I would assume that these books would qualify as "military history"? In years past, I did read every page of Foreign Relations of the United States, Volumes V and VI pertaining to the Vietnam War. Each volume exceeds 1,000 pages and I did not find them to be as entertaining as the books by Atkinson and Toll. Was this due to them being "scholarly" military history, or do they qualify as history at all? Maybe I was not as thrilled in the latter readings since I was a participant in that war and not the war that Atkinson and Toll write about?

I think the field of history has grown enough in the past generation or two - maybe you can attribute it to the rise of the internet or other popular and widely-available sources of historical information - that popular and "scholarly" (or academic) history are no longer mutually exclusive. A scholarly account, well-told, can be just as popular as the historical novels of Atkinson, the Shaaras, or Ken Follett, all of whom conduct extensive research in preparation for their popular writing. Part of it is about the formatting, and this is an area where historians could take some lessons from successful journalists-turned-historians. Instead of burdening the reader with footnotes and citations in the text, keep the text clean, plainly written, and flowing so that the reader stays engaged, then add an annotated bibliography at the end. Based on books I've read that are both scholarly and popular, that seems to be a recipe for success.

First of all, we need definitions of both types of history--at least this strictly amateur historian needs some definitions

I tend to think that the defining difference between scholarly history and popular history is the audience aimed at by each, and with what issues each engages. Scholarly history is written for other scholars, engaging with the issues that are important to those scholars. Popular history is written for the public, and engages with the issues that the public finds interesting.

The (perhaps not universal) result is, for example, that scholarly history tends to use jargon more extensively, to contain extended analyses of the historiography, and to explicitly position the work in relation to other works. It's an ongoing conversation in a fairly obscure language, invoking concepts that aren't immediately obvious to anyone but other historians (and sometimes, I have to say, not even to them). Popular history, by contrast, is really none of those things, but aims to be maximally accessible, about universally interesting issues and events.

There's surely overlap between the two, but that's my sense of the difference.

So, Far so good. Appreciated the nibbles.

Definitions. Yes, as my old School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS) seminar leader used to say, "define your terms up front." (he was an Army colonel) I delimit popular history to the non-fictional realm, and did not intend for anyone to think I was including historical fiction and alternative history. This last is the "what would have happened if...something other than what happened, happened" e.g. the Turtledove stuff on the Civil War. another example, what would have happened had the Enterprise dive bombers turned for home instead of following that seaplane on 4 June 1942? That kind of stuff. Not popular history in my definition. But it could be in yours, so okay. Henry Adams applies.

BTW, I classify Rick Atkinson's work in his histories as more popular history, aimed at the popular audience, but he assiduously researches these works. He achieves the synthesis that I think we want from the best history and knows how to keep his readers (of all stripes) interested. Of course, he writes in fluid, clear English, and that really helps, too. Also, his histories, to my knowledge are not like the historical novels of folks like Colleen McCullough (e.g. First Man in Rome series) and others, however well researched they are. _Dead Wake_ (about the sinking of the Lusitania) is another popular history work that in this category of very very good popular history.

Finally, one of the respondents talked about reading the FRUS (foreign relations of the United States), in the scholarly history world we call that a primary source, even though the FRUS is an edited work, it IS intended as a resource and as an archival record for researchers and not the popular history buying audience. Another example, all my PST files with my emails can be considered a primary source, a resource to build history from, but they are not published history per se until someone else (or me in an autobiography) tries to turn them into a narrative or argument of some sort (e.g. John T. Kuehn is/was a scatterbrain).

How fortunate, primary sources in military history will now become next month's handgrenade!

vr, John T. Kuehn, Fort Leavenworth Command and General Staff College

Throughout the Western World, military history has fallen out of focus with the civilian academia since the 1960s (if challenged, I will produce a reference for this!).

I'll take you up on that challenge to...ah...challenge you, largely because I'm interested in seeing the reference (as long as it's not John Miller from the National Review, who has published a fair bit of not great analysis on the situation).

I am an economist by trade and thus try to stay quiet in this forum. However, I would like to point out that this debate is not unique to history. Most branches of inquiry have a similar tension between scholarly and popular writing. Most have their good popular writers and their schlock ones. I think that perhaps the dividing line between scholarly and popular is that the scholars discuss how it is we know things, while the popular ones simply describe what we know (or think we know). The fact that this kind of discussion pops up pretty regularly is a good indication that there is a broad fringe where the two kinds of literature fade into one another.

Dav Vandenbroucke
Senior Economist
U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development

All/editor, trying to read some of these re;re: posts and keep coming back to this page, for example the T.J. Linzey re;re;....oddly frustrating. What gives?

john t kuehn

I believe it was Maurice Sendak, author of books like "Where the Wild Things Are," who was talking to a book critic. The critic makes a comment such as "So you write children's books..." and Sendak corrected him, "I write the way I write, you people (critics, etc) call me a writer of children's books."

I can, and do, write for both worlds we're discussing here, heavily footnoted PhD dissertation and barely footnoted Osprey books (check out my awesome and beautiful _Atlas of the Eastern Front, 1941-1945_, just out last month!). I work my butt off for both, I strive for accuracy and excellence in both, etc.

When I interviewed for the Purdue history graduate program, the graduate director told me (even at that early stage of my writing career - three Osprey books, each with a print run of ca. 4,000 times numerous print runs), "You've probably sold more books than all but a very few of the faculty here." And might I add, I suspect most of my books were actually read and not just sitting on a university library shelf. This way I get to put my interpretation on events, reasoned and fully supported by solid research - not just opinions, in front of many thousands of readers, an audience that "comrade academician" can often only dream of.

I'm not saying that book sales numbers should be the only measure. But neither are there two extremes: scholarly and valid versus popular and flaky. There's a large gray area in between, this is mainly where I reside, as do the likes of Rick Atkinson (at the high end) and Paul Carrell (low end). Military history is a big world, there's room for both styles and we should strive to see them as mutually supportive.

Rob Kirchubel

Throughout the Western World, military history has fallen out of focus with the civilian academia since the 1960s (if challenged, I will produce a reference for this!).

I'll take you up on that challenge to...ah...challenge you, largely because I'm interested in seeing the reference (as long as it's not John Miller from the National Review, who has published a fair bit of not great analysis on the situation).

I would cite: John A. Lynn, “The Embattled Future of Academic Military History,” The Journal of Military History, 61.4 (1997), 777-789, David MacIsaac, ed., The Military and Society (Colorado Springs: Air Force Academy, 1972), 85-93, Louis Morton, "The Historian and the Study of War," Mississippi Valley Historical Review, 49 (1962), 612-13, and Peter Paret, “The New Military History,” Parameters, Autumn 1991, 10-18.

I would also note that the flagship publication of the historical profession (The American Historical Review) published exactly one research article on World War II between 1945 and 1990 – which was diplomatic not military history (Vojtech Mastny, “Stalin and the Prospects of a Separate Peace in World War II”). AHR published one additional article about WWII after 1991, and again this was more diplomatic/political than military (Yukiko Koshiro, “Eurasian Eclipse: Japan's End Game in World War II”). The AHR never published any articles about the operational conduct of the Vietnam War or the Korean War.

Similarly, the professional journal of the Organization of American Historians published only three articles on the conduct of World War II during the Cold War, no articles on the conduct of the Korean or Vietnam Wars, and no articles on the conduct of World War II after 1986.

There shouldn't be much doubt that academia detests military history, and particularly operational or tactical military history (scorned as "drum and trumpet history"), which Walter Millis proclaimed in 1961 had “lost its function” and should not even be taught to young military officers. Operational and tactical military history is thus, by default, largely left to the "popular" historians.

James Perry was kind enough to list some articles for my request in response to the idea that military history has fallen out of focus with the civilian academia since the 1960s.


I would cite: John A. Lynn, “The Embattled Future of Academic Military History,” The Journal of Military History, 61.4 (1997), 777-789, David MacIsaac, ed., The Military and Society (Colorado Springs: Air Force Academy, 1972), 85-93, Louis Morton, "The Historian and the Study of War," Mississippi Valley Historical Review, 49 (1962), 612-13, and Peter Paret, “The New Military History,” Parameters, Autumn 1991, 10-18.


I’ve read the Lynn and Paret pieces, though not for a long time.  I’ll have to look at them again.  I’ve not seen the others, so many thanks.  


I was struck by this:


I would also note that the flagship publication of the historical profession (The American Historical Review) published exactly one research article on World War II between 1945 and 1990 – which was diplomatic not military history (Vojtech Mastny, “Stalin and the Prospects of a Separate Peace in World War II”). AHR published one additional article about WWII after 1991, and again this was more diplomatic/political than military (Yukiko Koshiro, “Eurasian Eclipse: Japan's End Game in World War II”).




"Overlord Revisited: An Interpretation of American Strategy in the European War, 1942-1944" (pp. 919-937)

Richard M. Leighton

Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1847256


AHR volume 68, no. 4 (July 1963)


doesn’t count as being about World War II?


In addition, Dr. Perry is narrowing the question here quite a bit.  I was asking about military history in general, not just World War II, and I was asking not just about operational history, but military history in general.  I value operational military history enormously, but I also value social military history, military history which uses a gender analysis, and lots of other sorts.  I think military history should and can be a broad church.


I was curious about the lack of World War II articles however and curious to see how much military history in general the American Historical Review published 1945-1990, so I went and looked at the TOCs of the AHR for that period.  What I found was that the AHR quite regularly published military history articles (and “documents” and “notes” and “suggestions”) during those decades.  I went ahead and counted the articles by decade.  Admittedly, I was somewhat generous in what I said was military history (broad church, remember?) but my measure was whether I would be surprised if I saw the piece in today’s Journal of Military History.  If I *wouldn’t*  be surprised, then it was military history. 


By that (admittedly imprecise) measure, the rough count of military history articles/documents/notes/suggestions — anything listed before the reviews, for each decade:


1945-1949:  14

1950-1959:  21

1960-1969: 16

1970-1979: 18 (they did start having major review articles, including one on 20+ books of WWII history in 1970, which I counted).

1980-1989: 12


Total:  81


Now, obviously, these are my judgement calls, and folks may well disagree with them.  I don’t think I was being overly generous in my choices, though.  Dr. Perry is right to say that there wasn’t much operational history in the AHR but there seems to me to have been quite a lot of what we now consider military history.


The reason for the lack of World War II articles, by the way, was not a prejudice against military history, but the simple fact that the AHR did not consider 1939-45 *history* for quite a long period afterwards.  They were, in fact, publishing extremely few articles of any kind on 1939-1945 at all until quite late in the period mentioned.  There were exceptions, like the Leighton article I cited above, but for quite a long time, the AHR was stuck in the early 20th century and before.  I suspect the same thing happened with Korea and Vietnam.


I was really surprised by the results, as I had an image as well of the AHA being resolutely anti-military history.  But I don’t think they were.  I think they didn’t really think that operational military history was worth more than an occasional article, but military history in broader view?  Absolutely.



David Silbey

James, Good to see (or rather read) your words again. You do cite the key writings on the topics, but there is one more that is key, and it involved an outreach between the military history community and the AHA. Interestingly, the historian who "bridged" the divide, or at least attempted to, is one who writes fluidly in both realms, although if forced to put him in a box it would be the scholarly/academic box, but his work has had broad popular appeal to many audiences. I am speaking of Robert M. Citino of UNT (and who just finished a stint as a visiting professor at the Army War College). The article I refer to was published in _The American Historical Review_ (October 2007) entitled "Military Histories Old and New: A Reintroduction" and all in all is a model of probity and empathy. Also, Michael Neiberg, also at Army War College, has done much to "heal the breech" as it were inside the scholarly community between military history and the history community in general. Finally, there is The Historical Society, a breakaway umbrella organization (whom Citino, Paret, and even lil' ole me have written for on occasion), which has both a professional journal and a more popularly oriented "newsletter" type publication entitled _Historically Speaking_. They offer the "big tent" approach for history of all types, including the formerly disesteemed branches of military, political, and diplomatic history. So lots of positive trends exist in the larger history community to bring military history, which has retained its very strong popular appeal, back into the big tent of history overall. Guys like Rob, Mike and even the now departed Genoveses are to be congratulated on their efforts in this regard. It is no longer quite as bad as John Lynn made it appear all those years ago. Rumors of military historians as the outcasts of the community are greatly exaggerated, but it is not a trivial matter.

My key point I guess, takes us to the original point-- popular versus scholarly history. In addition to the distaste that some naturally have a la Erasmus for anything to do with war (including histories of it), the popularity of it was part of the dynamic in the aforementioned breech--however large or small one thinks it really was or is..

Historically yours,
John T. Kuehn, Ph.D.
Major General William Stofft Chair of Historical Research
US Army Command and General Staff College

I also used to think that military history works had scant chance of being published in the academic world. But I have seen a surprising number of secondary works in my own recent research. (Please forgive any shameless self-promotion that follows.) I decided to follow David Silbey's lead and look at my own bibliography of a naval officer who served in the Quasi-War, the War of 1812, and the U.S.-Mexican War. I used a similar criterion to decide if something was military history or was not, and tallied the academic press publications and the popular press ones. I counted Naval Institute Press books and Naval History magazine as popular or non-academic, and American Neptune as a scholarly journal. For publication dates between 1966 and 1999, I had 20 academic books, and 14 scholarly articles, compared with 19 non-academic books and one article. For post-2000 publication dates, I have 16 academic books and 4 scholarly articles, as opposed to 19 non-academic books and 4 articles. So, about the same! Some caveats: Obviously, I made the bibliography from which the above count was taken. Also, biographies seemed a bit more likely to appear from a non-academic press even if the authors were actually academic historians. They may have gone that route hoping to increase their royalties. If the reviews were favorable, then who published the book might not really matter to a promotion or tenure committee.

University presses have recently published new works that clearly fall under the broad military history tent, by both new scholars and some with well-established reputations. The bicentennial of the War of 1812 yielded a small spate of works, and perhaps that will abate soon.

Certainly some historians view military subjects with disdain, and I have seen that first-hand. And more than a few military historians seem to reciprocate that disdain. Before about 1965, it seems that "history" included only political, military and diplomatic subjects. And biographies of "great men" with the odd woman thrown in.

All in all, however, I think that good work will get published.


Bruce Castleman

I'm going to take a stand with my feet planted in mid-air on both sides and say that BOTH scholarly and popular history are unbelievably valuable, for very different reasons, and aim at different audiences.

However, I'm going to add a different 20 pence...I think however it's done, military history must take a greater role in studying history, in both the popular and scholarly arenas. Wars are, sadly, how nations are changed, technology advanced, and social revolutions launched. They have to be understood by the full range of people in a nation, from the serious historian to the average citizen. They are more than arrows on a map or grainy newsreel footage of Stukas bombing Poland or video-game style shots of guided missiles exploding a bunker.

There is a complexity, depth, and humanity to military history, and it has to be communicated to students, with increasing levels of all three as they get older and more capable of comprehending the material.

I don't want to offer a "definitive answer" on this subject. I see value in both popular history and academic history. I write the former in my e-books on World War II and my articles for World War II History magazine and read the latter when doing research for the former. It means a great deal to me that I can find the precise footnoted reference to something General Arthur Percival said to General Heath in a heated debate in the retreat in Malaya, and then re-create that conversation to convey to a more general reader both the high drama and leadership failure of the British in Malaya in 1942.

I think there are other great questions that need to be addressed -- I have seen history taught appallingly badly in the United States to the point that many Americans cannot name who the United States fought in the World Wars. My experience has been that history is taught as a procession of inevitabilities in which the "good guys" always win, and therefore, the average citizen can play no greater role in making history than shutting up and doing as he's bloody well told by the authorities (his or her teacher now, drill sergeant later, president after that). So students "tune out" and only concern themselves with "jumping through the hoop" and being done with stories about an increasingly distant and therefore irrelevant past.

James Loewen's book "Lies My Teachers Told Me" dicusses these problems with power and force (and footnotes). My favorite note from that book is how so many history textbooks leave out Woodrow Wilson's racism and repeatedly sending the Marines to Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti. They also leave out Helen Keller's entire adult life after she graduates university, because history textbooks can't bear to admit the fact that she was a Communist and early admirer of the Soviet Union...the result are sanitized and unreal figures, which turn students off even further. The good guys always win, the leaders are always saints, the events are just stories about "maps and chaps," and none of it matters -- until the World Trade Center and Pentagon get knocked down...and then suddenly everybody is searching the web to get a definitive answer on how this happened, with the keyword being "Nostradamus."

Yes, that really happened. That was an even bigger display of historical ignorance.

So my epiphany is this: let's teach more military history, let's write more military history, let's write more accurate military history, and let's write more interesting military history. However it's done, it's all good.

As a mere groveller in the muddy bottom of this subject I'd suggest that more popular military histories need to be writtten by academics for a popular audience. This woukld have the benefit of helping to overcome the often-simplistic, even hagiographic nature of much written for a popular audience (Anyone familiar with the Philippine-American War will know how few bright stars of history writing there are in that bright firmament) and might even improve the accessability of academic papers.

David Lippman exhorts us to "teach more military history." Agreed and amen! But anyone looking over openings in military history on our H-Net or in the _Chronicle_ would find slim pickings indeed. For that matter, the tenure-track job situation in the entire history profession (except for a few currently "hot" slots) has been in a state of depression for decades, yet our insulated academic ivory towers churn out yet more history doctorates.


Stanley Sandler

After reading Stanley Sanders response to David Lippman's exhortation to 'teach more military history', I had a thought--does 'teach more military history' necessarily require a tenure-track (or any other) faculty job at a teaching institution? I seem to remember reading somewhere that Socrates taught in olive groves in exchange for dinner and booze, though that was before my time.

(I'm not sure young folks just out of high school--again see Socrates--are the best students for this subject anyway, though I leave that for another day, and I exclude service schools since I don't think the main intent is to address adding more teaching jobs there.)

I know it has become the default to associate teaching with classrooms, but why wouldn't an Internet-age speaker's bureau for linking military historians with modern olive groves serve the purpose just as well? I'll bet plenty of interested "pure students"* could be found given some coordination. I know there's a regular demand for this at various venues here in Charleston. (There's some mild desperation for speakers, since even I've done it a couple of times.)

Speakers won't make presidential-candidate-level speaking fees (or much at all), but they could meet their goal of educating a few average American citizens about military history, possibly while nibbling complimentary toothpicked cheese cubes & sipping cardboardeaux from plastic cups.

*"Pure students" show up for the joy of learning, not to acquire a check in a graduation requirements box.

Hear Hear! Stan, I would caveat this generally grim picture though with all the teaching jobs in the Professional Military Education (PME) system of the US (and other nations). I can only speak to US PME, perhaps Jeff Grey or someone else at, say Baltic Defense College or even in UK, could address deal in those nations.

At any rate, lots of military history jobs in US PME system. And they pay really well.

-Hiring preference is for veterans, we have seen vets with a masters degree make the cut over academics with Ph.D.s with no service for military history jobs.
-These are not tenured jobs (for the most part, I have heard rumors that the service academies have tenure)
-They are not even regular GS jobs with all the protections that come with being a Title V, instead the are Title X, and so at risk from arbitrary civilian employment policies as well as the Budge Control Act (ie. sequestration).
-Some of them are in very high cost of living areas, which offsets the good pay piece,--e.g. Newport, Washington DC, and Monterey California.

And now you know why I work in Kansas and live in Missouri!
Okay, back to drafting the handgrenade for March.

vr, John
John T. Kuehn, Ph.D.
William A. Stofft Chair of Historical Research
U.S. Army Command and General Staff College
Fort Leavenworth, KS

Don't assume that there are as few military historians in academia as the number of announced job openings might suggest. My department at Clemson University has never advertised a job in military history. But two of us in the department teach, and publish, military history.

Ed Moise

Regrettably, Stanley Sandler, I don't know much about how to create more classes and opportunities for teaching military history...however, I do urge teachers and authors in general to teach, write, and talk the subject up.

Larry, I agree with you -- military history can be taught in classes that neither require a tenure degree nor a class full of officer cadets. It need not be limited to West Point, St. Cyr, Sandhurst, Dartmouth, or Annapolis. It can be done in high school, if the teacher has an interest in the subject and can make it interesting.

It can be more than "Who's cooler? Patton or Rommel?" and less clanky than "The superiority of the M-1 Garand to the KAR98K in World War II" or "maps and chaps." I believe that a good deal of it can focus on how war required ordinary people to perform extraordinary actions on a daily basis, whether at the front or at home.

For example, World War I required young men to survive the horrors of the trenches, fly biplanes over battlefields, or man U-boats or battleships. It required young women to emerge from stately homes (if upper middle class) or ordinary homes (middle class) or sweatshop factories (if lower class) to serve as workers in dangerous arms factories, drive buses, trucks, streetcars, and trains (new for women), or serve as nurses close to the front in Flanders.

How these young men and women were changed and in turn changed the world through and by their sacrifices and ordeals is part of military history as well as social history, and that should resonate with high school students, who are the age or shortly below that of the young men and women who went across the Channel to attack Ypres or tend the wounded who came back.

If these experiences are rendered rather than told (an essential part of good writing), then they go from becoming grainy newsreel footage or vague stories to the students and become real experiences.

The National Park Service and re-enactors do this well in America, with men and women donning period clothing, brandishing period firearms, and making period food on period cooking pots. It also helps to have youth meet actual participants -- my nephew, for example, realized that World War II was serious business when he met "Wild Bill" Guarnere of "Band of Brothers" fame and heard from the ancient soldier about the defense of Bastogne -- fear, intense cold, sudden death. It made it all real to him. He thought about war differently after that.

That alone is a good outcome of creative teaching of military history.

Military history is popular, of course, at the 5 service academies, VMI, The Citadel, Texas A&M, Norwich, and a few others, mainly in the patriotism South. However, at some higher educational institutions, military history is not PC. There is a saying I heard that 90% of all military historians are concentrated in the 10+ institutions I mentioned in the previous sentences. The Society for Military History listed mostly personal residences addresses rather than by work address since some history departments will actually NOT paid for memberships...

While not strictly military history in the traditional sense, I have noticed a considerable rise in academic interest in warfare as it relates to various social and cultural evolutionary studies. Historical Sociology has placed a great emphasis on the importance of warfare and military prerogatives in the rise of the modern state, as outlined by the late Charles Tilly for example. Deep History I have noticed has explored the possibility of warfare being important to the early development of human societies in prehistoric times.

Again not military in the traditional sense, but it does help demonstrate that warfare is very much a lively topic within academic discourse and has expanded beyond strictly military history.

What is Deep History?
Please provide a reference for the definition from a scholarly source.

my guess, and that is all it is, is that it is either meta history (as in going deep back in time) or it is annales style stuff, that is micro-history, going deep into content.

But I do not know and that is another reason jargon is problematic.

r, John T. Kuehn

Deep History is the attempt to study the remote origins of things, hence the label "Deep". Usually this involves studying human history as a whole from the time of the first humans appearing to the present, and often involves a rejection of the distinction between prehistory and history as arbitrary. It overlaps with another emerging field of "Big History" which attempts to study the history of the entire universe. Here's an overview of the field from History Today by Paul Dukes of the University of Aberdeen:

I first encountered the term "Deep History" whilst reading Robert Bellah's "Religion in Human Evolution", which takes a Deep History approach to religion: http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674061439

Two examples of the Deep History approach to warfare that I am currently reading are Anzar Gat's "War in Human Civilization": https://global.oup.com/academic/product/war-in-human-civilization-978019...

As well as "War, Peace, and Human Nature: The Convergence of Evolutionary and Cultural Views" edited by Douglas P. Fry.

There are other examples I know of, it's an expanding field as far as I can tell.

I hope this clears things up.

Stephen Satkiewicz


When I first read your post I confused 'deep history' with 'Big History,' a term I've only seen in connection with world history. I suppose the 'deep' also could refer to 'thoughtful or well-considered,' but I don't want to go out on a limb.

The two terms (deep/Big) almost sound orthogonal. In fact, maybe a comprehensive--at least in 2-dimensions--'orthogonal history' school will emerge if the two groups ever get together.

Anyway, using my favorite scholarly search engine (Google scholar) I got about 10K hits for the term and about the same on Google books. Some of them looked pretty scholarly having been printed by some University Press or another.

I can't guarantee you'll find a clear definition in that happy mess o'scholarship--in fact judging by jargon content of some titles I'm convinced you won't--but I did find this title strangely intriguing: "Snake diets and the deep history hypothesis."

I didn't get around to reading it, but I imagine it's a treatise on the long-ago emergence of the SEALS in deep military history.

Larry A. Grant