Military History

Blown Away: The (Attempted) Mongol Invasion of Japan

September 22, 2015

Japan had expected the Mongol invasion for years. In 1266, Kublai Khan, the new Mongol emperor of China, sent envoys to Japan with a letter addressed to the “King of Japan”–a title guaranteed to offend the Japanese emperor.  The letter itself was equally unpalatable.  The Great Khan “invited” Japan to send envoys to the Mongol […]

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Female Samurai: Warriors and Otherwise

July 14, 2015

Female samurais are stock figures in modern anime, manga, western comic books, and fantasy novels:  hard-fighting, often hard-drinking, badasses with swords and bows.  The key word is fantasy. In medieval Japan, samurai was a class distinction as well as a job description.  Women who were born into the samurai class were samurais whether or not […]

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Counting The Fallen

June 23, 2015

The size of the armies and the number of the casualties in a given war, or even individual battle, is always a difficult discussion for historians. When dealing with pre-modern sources of any kind, historians are cautious about accepting contemporary estimates.* The assumption is that at best the writer of the source did not have […]

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A Bit of (Really Gross) Waterloo Trivia

June 18, 2015

Let’s face it, there’s no reason for me to give you a quick synopsis of what happened at the Battle of Waterloo, what led to the Battle of Waterloo, why it mattered, or the battle’s social/political/artistic impact.  If you are reading this on or soon after June 18, 2015, blog posts and news articles related […]

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If you can’t go to Waterloo….

June 12, 2015

  Let Waterloo come to you. You may have heard–June 18th is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.  Hundreds of thousands of history buffs, nerds, geeks and buggs* will gather in Belgium to watch 5000 enthusiasts and 300 bewildered horses reenact the battle.  My guess is that plenty of them are already there, […]

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Bernard Cornwell on Waterloo

May 26, 2015

Bernard Cornwell writes historical fiction.  Really vivid, well-researched historical fiction with a military bent and complicated main characters. Now Cornwell makes his first foray into historical nonfiction with Waterloo: The History of Four Days, Three Armies, and Three Battles. Published in time for the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, Cornwell’s account features the […]

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Went The Day Well? Witnessing Waterloo

May 15, 2015

In case you’ve missed it, the bicentennial of the Battle of Waterloo is nigh.  As is always the case with major historical anniversaries, major historical hoopla has begun. The first commemorative articles have already appeared. Reenactment groups are preparing a grand scale reenactment–5000 reeanctors, 300 horses, 100 cannons, a gazillion spectators.* And new books on […]

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On The Shores of Tripoli

April 10, 2015

In my seventh grade music class, we regularly sang the anthems of the various branches of the United States’ armed services.*  Three days a week, the caissons rolled, bones sank to Davy Jones, planes sailed into the wild blue yonder, and the Marines fought from the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli.  It […]

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Word With A Past: Pyrrhic Victory

March 31, 2015

Pyrrhus (319 to 272 BCE),  king  of the Greek city-state  Epirus, was a second cousin of Alexander the Great.  He earned a reputation as a successful general in the political chaos of the successor kingdoms that arose from the ruins of his famous cousin’s empire.  A hundred years after Pyrrhus’s death, Hannibal, famous for crossing […]

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The Fall of the Ottomans

March 24, 2015

Last year I spent a lot of time and virtual ink on books about World War I. When the year came to an end, I had to take a breather. But this one was too good to let pass: Western histories of the First World War often focus on the trench warfare on the Western […]

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