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For the Common Defense: A Military History of the United States of America Rev Exp Edition

39 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0029215975
ISBN-10: 0029215978
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Senator Sam Nunn Millett and Maslowski have enriched what was already the best single-volume survey of American military history. Thus crisply-written, revised, and expanded edition of For the Common Defense is must reading for anyone interested in the course of that history, from the days of colonial militias to those of Desert Storm.

Paul Kennedy author of The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers This is a splendid book, clearly written and exceedingly balanced.

Russell F. Weigley author of The American Way of War The preeminent survey of American military history.

The Washington Times Now, for the first time, we have an American military history on the grand scale, and what a grand book it is.

About the Author

Allan R. Millett is Professor of History and Director of the Eisenhower Center for American Studies at The University of New Orleans.

Peter Maslowski is professor of history at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; Rev Exp edition (September 7, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0029215978
  • ISBN-13: 978-0029215975
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #285,481 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 4, 2005
Format: Paperback
I wish more people, especially members of the media, would read this non political survey of U.S. military history from the early 1600s beginnings of English settlement to the collapse of the Soviet Union and Desert Storm, with extensive bibliographies. This is an excellent map for the beginning student of our military history, charting the territory. It can help us avoid taking too short-term a perspective on current events.

Without this grounding it's easy to believe our current challenges are new. They're not. The U.S. has faced constantly changing threats throughout its history, even as the country itself has continuously changed. U.S. military strength has always fluctuated, expanding in times of threat & contracting in peace. We have gone to war ill-prepared, then triumphed after spectacular military build-up.

We have been in a near constant state of preparing for war, fighting war or recovering from war. Public opinion has usually been divided, including going into the world wars. War has always had collateral damage. It has actually become considerably LESS unpleasant as technology & strategy have advanced. The Civil War, World War I & some battles of World War II were barbaric compared with anything we've seen recently.

Our military has made vital contributions to our economy, technological advance, education and civil rights. Minorities, especially blacks & Native Americans, have played vital roles in our military throughout our history.

The perspective given by Allan R. Millett & Peter Maslowski raises questions such as how could guerrilla warfare be described as a "new" challenge? Guerrilla warfare has been an issue since the Revolution. We ought have a good grasp on it by now.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Mark R. Silla on November 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
I have bought every edition of this book primarily for the comprehensive reading guides/bibliography found at the end of each chapter. This time, the publisher has decided to eliminate the reading lists from the book and only make them available on the Simon and Schuster webpage or on the co-author's webpage. The Simon and Schuster webpage isn't easy to use and there are far too many pages to print each reading list. The lists really should have been included at the end of each chapter; now I'm forced to run to the computer after reading each chapter to learn about other good books on the same subject. Hence, I feel as if the book I purchased provides far less value than I was expecting and I am deeply disappointed with my purchase and the practice of the publishers and/or authors to save a few cents in publishing costs by dispensing with the lists found in previous editions.
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33 of 39 people found the following review helpful By cornhusker001 on April 27, 2001
Format: Paperback
I took Maslowski's history class about the U.S. military after 1917 at the University of Nebraska in 2001. "For the Common Defense" was one of the required readings for his class. If you have the chance to take his class, do it, it's informative and entertaining. When most history books just look at the battle statistics and "who did what," Maslowski and Millet's book goes further to illustrate the influence that politicians had on the military establishment. Most students sell their books back to the bookstore when they are done with the class--I decided to keep mine.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Reader on June 25, 2006
Format: Paperback
I read David Hackett Fischer's "Washington's Crossing" (2004) and it was excellent. If you read reviews of it on Amazon.com -- everything everyone says there is JUST what I felt in reading it. Wished it would never end and that he'd write all the early history of America.

"For the Common Defense" struck me the same way. A friend of my son's liked it and got it for him. I picked it up by accident and thought, "dull, dull, dull!" and started reading (only because I'm an habitual read-a-holic). As I read, prejudiced by my first thoughts, I still thought, "dull, dull, dull..." Then my eyes started opening and I realized, "This is VERY interesting!" Finally I started reading it aloud to my husband, and now we are soooo excited to realize, "The kids are in bed! We can read THE BOOK!" We relish it -- truly the highlight of our day! We have learned so much. We really didn't know our country before. The authors' lists of books (and their enthusiastic descriptions of their especial favorites) after each section is a most excellent reference for more detailed reading into one's particular area of interest.

"For the Common Defense" is an overview, but of ALL America's military history, with an eye for the telling detail. This is from p. 238: Joshua Chamberlain, commander of the 20th Maine Volunteers, describes the night of December 13-14 at Frederickburg.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mermaid Girl on September 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
I first purchased this book for a military history class at my college. The book appears intimidating at first glance due to its size. The text really is quite interesting, however, and I found it is not difficult reading. The author does an excellent job at giving a chronological history at America's beginning with the first concepts of a militia and military. All of the major skirmishes, battles and wars are covered as well as a bit of political information. I appreciated the author's conclusive points at the end of each chapter by stating what significance came of the event both militarily and socially or politically. Definitely a text worth keeping after the class is over.
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