Author Paula Thornhill visits the Pritzker Military Museum and Library to discuss her book Demystifying the American Military: Institutions, Evolution, and Challenges since 1789.
The United States military has evolved from a tiny and distrusted institution at the margins of government into a central element of America and American power, yet the military is sometimes hard to comprehend because of its unique language, history, and culture. Paula Thornhill first provides a primer for understanding America’s military services. She then traces the military’s evolution from the nation’s founding through the present day to reveal how major American experiences repeatedly reshape the military. This examination offers a constant reminder that the armed services are the products of experience and accident.
Thus, today’s twenty-first century military reflects patterns of adaptation and agglomeration, and so may only partially reveal the ideal military America would build if starting from a blank slate. Ultimately, this book seeks to open a window into the American military in such a way that the reader can see it, for good or for ill, for what it fundamentally is—a reflection of the nation, its priorities, and its people.