Demystifying the American Military

Institutions, Evolution, and Challenges since 1789

  • Subject: General Military & Naval History
  • Format:
    Softcover
  • Pages:
    264
    pages
  • Published:
    June 15, 2019
  • ISBN-10:
    1682470733
  • ISBN-13:
    9781682470732
  • Product Dimensions:
    8 × 5 × 1 in
  • Product Weight:
    16 oz
Softcover $26.00
Member Price $20.80 Save 20%
Book: Cover Type

Overview

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.

About the Author

Editorial Reviews

“America’s service members enjoy a tremendous level of admiration and respect from a population that has little experience or personal connection to them. In Demystifying the American Military, Paula Thornhill offers a primer for those unfamiliar with the military, developing a useful framework for understanding the ongoing, dynamic relationships that shape it. The book provides a succinct, readable history of each service branch, transformed by war experiences, controversies, and challenging decisions. Paula shares an in-depth review of the human factors that impact the military, raising fundamental questions about its purpose, culture, and evolution. Through a lifetime of service, General Thornhill has a well-established reputation as an extraordinary patriot, teacher, and mentor. I was fortunate to work with Paula; and appreciated firsthand her vision, intellect, and clarity of purpose. She has a tremendous capacity to simplify complex issues, sifting through enormous amounts of information and focusing on the most salient points. Readers will recognize these skills in the pages of this book, and will find it an invaluable contribution to the understanding of this vital American institution.” —General Peter Pace, USMC (Ret.), 16th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
“Paula Thornhill's Demystifying the American Military offers 'one-stop-shopping' for those interested in the American military and defense policy. It's the ideal primer that allows civilians to bridge the gap between American society and the insular world of the military that defends it. This book should be required reading for current and aspiring national security officials.” —Dr. Mara Karlin, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy for strategy and force development; Director, Strategic Studies, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University
"Using a framework that makes the complex, byzantine makeup of defense institutions easily digestible, Demystifying the American Military provides a solid primer for those wishing to understand the historical, structural, and cultural nuances that shape and drive the military institutions of the United States - from the founding of the Republic to today." —Nathan K. Finney, co-editor and author of Redefining the Modern Military: The Intersection of Profession and Ethics
"America's service members enjoy a tremendous level of admiration and respect from a population that has little experience or personal connection to them. In Demystifying the American Military, Paula Thornhill offers a primer for those unfamiliar with the military, developing a useful framework for understanding the ongoing, dynamic relationships that shape it. The book provides a succinct, readable history of each service branch, transformed by war experiences, controversies, and challenging decisions. Paula shares an in-depth review of the human factors that impact the military, raising fundamental questions about its purpose, culture, and evolution.Through a lifetime of service, General Thornhill has a well-established reputation as an extraordinary patriot, teacher, and mentor. I was fortunate to work with Paula; and appreciated firsthand her vision, intellect, and clarity of purpose. She has a tremendous capacity to simplify complex issues, sifting through enormous amounts of information and focusing on the most salient points. Readers will recognize these skills in the pages of this book, and will find it an invaluable contribution to the understanding of this vital American institution." —General Peter Pace, USMC (Ret.), 16th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
"Demystifying the American Military eases the reader into military world with early 'basic training' chapters on U.S. military organizations and the individuals that serve in them, then deftly explores how the military evolved into the vast, vital American institution of the 21st century. If an officer candidate, new defense department civilian, or family member asked for a single book recommendation to understand the U.S. military I'd point them immediately to Demystifying the American Military. It's a must read for anyone interested in the United States military as an institution and as a reflection of the nation it serves." —General Richard B. Myers, USAF (Ret.), 15th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; President, Kansas State University
"As America's population continues to grow and its all-volunteer military shrinks, these two American institutions are slowly drifting apart. Demystifying the American Military comes at a critical time in the American experience and serves as a bridging tool to enhance civil society's understanding of their professional military servants." —Tyrell O. Mayfield, co-editor and author of Redefining the Modern Military: The Intersection of Profession and Ethics
“This concise guide serves as a very useful primer for those who want to better understand the nation’s military services…. The author writes well, and she has produced a study that should be of great use to all those who want to better understand the evolution of our armed forces. At times, the text is also thought provoking, such as when the author closes her chapter on the period 2001-2017 with the observation: ‘Hopefully. The next time the nation goes to war, the force it has will look more like the force it needs.’ Amen to that!” —The Journal of America’s Military Past
“Retired US Air Force brigadier general and defense analyst Thornhill, gives us a short course in the history, organization, and culture of America’s military institutions. Thornhill’s intention is to help the citizen better understand the services. And she does this quite well…. Well written and quite readable, Demystifying the American Military is an excellent handbook for those ... little familiar with the history and culture of the armed forces, and even those well-versed in these matters are likely to find some useful tidbits.” —StrategyPage
Demystifying the American Military is a valuable contribution toward a greater understanding of the American military. A retired brigadier general in the U.S. Air Force, Thornhill has an insider’s understanding and familiarity with the present defense establishment and explains it in jargon-free prose. This book is informative and a good primer for novices, while also provocative for scholars.”  —The Strategy Bridge