Gary B. Nash
The American Revolution played an important role in African Americans' quest for freedom. It marked the first mass rebellion by slaves in American history, gave rise to the first civil rights movement, and resulted in the first large-scale constructions of free black life. African slaves in North America knew that their natural rights were violated by their enslavement, although a confluence of events heightened their restiveness and provided them with the ideology-laden phrases that they could deploy in their struggle to secure their liberty whenever and wherever possible. The Revolution offered slaves a chance to realize this dream. African American revolutionaries saw the war as a way to quench their thirst for freedom, to end corrupt power, and to die for their natural rights.
This article focuses on the importance of oral history in recording wars. The article draws on personal experiences of interviewing veterans of the Second World War. Oral history interviews illuminate the often-ignored experiences of ordinary people caught up in war and the range of reactions that different aspects of war evoked from them, while reminding us that combat—”the quintessential war experience”—is not the sole defining experience of war. Interviews that concentrate on combat experiences reflect a very narrow concept of war. Most of the time in uniform is actually spent out of action. Most servicemen and women are not in front-line units. This article also reminds us that one of the joys of oral history is that you always get so much more than you ask for. This article emphasizes that commemorating war is often a collective experience. By contextualizing the individual experience in the narrative of war, oral history adds texture to those collective narratives.
In early 1645 Field Marshal Lennard Torstensson led a Swedish army of 9,000 cavalry, 6,000 infantry, and sixty cannon against a Habsburg-Imperial army of 10,000 cavalry, 5,000 infantry, and twenty-six cannon commanded by Melchior von Hatzfeld. Both armies were composed of regiments commanded by international colonel-proprietors, who had used their funds or credit to raise and maintain military units. Many of the soldiers in both armies had been in service for ten years or more. The colonel-proprietors and generals in both armies regarded the recruitment of their experienced veterans as a long-term investment, and both were supported in their enterprises by an international network of private credit facilities, munitions manufacturers, food suppliers, and transport contractors. In both cases this elaborate structure was funded through control of the financial resources of entire territories, largely extracted and administered by the military high command. The armies clashed at Jankow in Bohemia, and the Imperial forces, though superior in cavalry, were held and eventually defeated by the Swedes, in part thanks to their artillery.
Ira D. Gruber
This article explores how changes in methods and intentions affected conflicts in the Atlantic world from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries. First, it defines war in this era — specifically, to distinguish between acts of war and other types of violence that occurred in the Atlantic world between 1440 and 1763. Although the peoples of the Atlantic world made war idiosyncratically in this era — shaping their uses of force to suit their particular social, technological, political, and cultural circumstances — all were to be touched by what historians term the Military Revolution. In comparison with Portugal, Spain had a much more substantial impact on the Atlantic warfare of the sixteenth century. In the second half of the seventeenth century, England took the lead in creating a fleet of specialised warships to defend its home waters and to protect its overseas trade and colonies. While England was leading at sea, France was building the largest and most powerful standing army in Europe. Fighting in America was sometimes linked to wars in Europe but was rarely limited by European military conventions.
Stephen R. Conway
During the American Revolution, Britain relied primarily on its army to subdue the rebellious colonies. At its peak, the British army in North America had approximately 50,000 officers and men, constituting the largest expeditionary force sent overseas by any British governments. After nearly seven years of fighting, however, the British Parliament realized that military operations in the colonies would not crush the rebellion. The American Revolution has been linked to various myths, three of which relate to the British army and its role in the War of Independence. One myth is that the weaknesses of character and approach of the British army account for its loss in the war that it should have won. This chapter challenges the myths of the War of Independence and offers a different explanation for the failure of the British army to quash the American revolt.
This article examines the range of national experiences of communist rule in terms of the aspiration to ‘overtake and outstrip the advanced countries economically’. It reviews the causal beliefs of the rulers, the rise and fall of their economies (or, in the case of China, its continued rise), the core institutions of communist rule and their evolution, and other outcomes. The process of overcoming a development lag so as to approach the global technological frontier has required continual institutional change and policy reform in the face of resistance from established interests. So far, China is the only country where communist rule has been able to meet these requirements, enabled by a new deal with political and economic stakeholders. The article places the ‘China Deal’ on a spectrum previously limited to the Soviet Big and Little Deals.
During the American Revolution, tens of thousands of men served in the Continental army to fight Britain and became skilled professionals in the process. These soldiers formed deep bonds with each other, not only by fighting the enemy but also by living together, caring for each other when sick, burying their friends and enemies, tolerating their weak officers, celebrating their talented ones, foraging for food, and otherwise coping with all the hardships of army life. Created by the Continental Congress in June 1775, the Continental army fought the British until the war's end in 1783. Poor men made up the core of Continental servicemen. Officers and soldiers received very different pay. By the end of 1776, the Continental army was also dissolved. Both formal and informal punishment was consistent throughout the army. Militiamen did not receive corporal punishment, as sentenced by courts-martial or done informally by angry officers.
This article explores Benito Mussolini's view on fascism and war. War had an essential place in Mussolini's worldview, even before he came to power in 1922. After this, Mussolini showed some realism and opportunism in domestic and foreign policy, but he was first and foremost driven by an ultranationalist, racist, militarist, and Social Darwinist worldview which rested on the fundamental assumption that life is a struggle and war the father of all things. Mussolini believed the twentieth century to be the century of Italy. He failed to assemble his ideas into an all-embracing intellectual system; however, he possessed a sufficiently articulated and coherent worldview, the essence of which was that the nation would be made through war and territorial expansion. Racism was the most radical part of the fascist project to transform Italians into a warrior race.
This article incorporates two complex concepts: trauma and culture. Trauma in the original medical sense meant simply a physical injury; it came to mean a state of shock brought on by injury; and in psychoanalysis it means the condition that can result from an emotional shock. Traditionalists might object that trauma is only individual, not collective; there can therefore be no cultural trauma. However, the term ‘collective traumatic memory’ can justifiably be used in relation to the experience of war. This article argues that individuals could sometimes express the traumatic experience of the war in a way which transcended the personal and could symbolize collective experience and mentalities. To understand the cultural trauma of war, it explains the enthusiasm for war in certain cultures and sections of societies, what occasioned the trauma, and how culture reacted to it.
This article describes the totality of the First World War in many aspects. The word ‘total’ lies at the heart of different perceptions of the First World War. It was a war that involved total mobilization, socially and economically; a modern war, which required total commitment and support from the population, on the home front and on the battlefront; and a war that led to the total subordination of the economy and society to the needs of the military. Commitment to war had to be total. This was the apparent lesson of the First World War. Modern war could not be fought with half-measures. This combination – struggle beyond reason and war without end – became the agenda of fascism.