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Americans at War

The Development of the American Military System

152 pages / 5.50 x 8.50 inches / no illustrations

American History

  Paperback / 9780807124741 / March 1999

In Americans at War T. Harry Williams, author of Lincoln and His Generals, offers a concise historical survey of the methods by which the United States government has sought to organize and direct our military forces from the days of the Revolutionary War to the Atomic Age.

In giving his interpretative view of the development of the American command system, Dr. Williams demonstrates convincingly that the American genius—even the genius for making mistakes—has found full expression in the various systems which have been formulated.

During the Revolutionary War, for instance, it was never finally determined just who had the ultimate authority in mapping strategy, Washington or the Continental Congress. The War of 1812 resulted in at least a technical defeat for the United States, Williams says, because of incompetent civilian authority over the military. In the Mexican War and the Civil War, the United States profited from strong war-time presidents, but during the Spanish-American War and World War I the civilian authority left something to be desired.

Military men and the historians will welcome this first attempt to give an overall picture o the American command system through all our wars.

“I know of no man,” one prominent military authority has stated, “who is better qualified by knowledge, insight, and writing ability to discuss the American military experience.” 

T. Harry Williams (19091979) was Boyd Professor of History at Louisiana State University. He won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for Huey Long: A Biography. Among his other works are Lincoln and His Generals, With Beauregard in Mexico, Romance and Realism in Southern Politics, and Americans at War: The Development of the American Military System.

Review of Americans at War

“Bringing together items ranging over forty years of scholarship and touching upon Williams’ major fields of interest, this selection provides the pleasure and stimulation one expects of his work.”—Journal of American Studies

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