Thursday, February 24, 2005

Leeeeeeaviiiiing, oooon a jetplane....

Mark Grimsley is off to the annual SMH conference.

He does not appear particularly enthused by what is on offer, for reasons that regular readers of his site will be familiar with. I see where he's coming from. I have to say that some of it looks rather good and some of it looks rather less good - simply because looking at the schedule I suspect that some of the papers being presented (I shall name no names) will be rehashed presentations of old work that has already done the rounds. Could be wrong, of course.

It also seemed to me that terms current in the defense establishment
were frequently used to describe sessions that dealt with other historical
periods; e.g., "Amphibious Warfare in the Early Modern World;" "The Continental
Army: Insurgent Peace-Keepers?;" "Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in Southern
Africa, 1900-1902;" "Counter-Insurgency from Cuba to Castile . . . 1895-1936;"
"Asymmetrical Warfare during the American Revolution's Southern Campaign;"
"Professionalism and Peace Operations [in the U.S., 1830-1860]."

I actually rather like this mix of military history and strategic studies - done well (ie. with solid history rather than warping the facts to fit a preconceived template) I think it can be extremely useful. I look forward to getting my sticky little hands on David J. Lonsdale's new book on Alexander the Great.

One part of the conference I would definitely go out of my way to see would be Simon Robins' paper on General Sir Henry Horne. Horne is probably the least well known of Britain's army commanders in the Great War, leading 1st Army from 1916 to the Armistice. His papers were burned on his death and his life is to no small degree a blank slate. This is unfortunate as, apart from the fact that he is broadly perceived as having been good at his job, he was a gunner and given that gunnery was the key discipline when it came to the tricky matter of unlocking the Western Front it would be both useful and interesting to know what was buzzing through his head during his tenure. If Robins can bring something new to the table on this, it should be good.


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