For the Common Defense

For the Common Defense

Called “the preeminent survey of American military history” by Russell F. Weigley, America’s foremost military historian, For the Common Defense is an essential contribution to the field of military history. This carefully researched third edition provides the most complete and current history of United States defense policy and military institutions and the conduct of America’s wars. Without diminishing the value of its earlier editions, authors Allan R. Millett, Peter Maslowski, and William B. Feis provide a fresh perspective on the continuing issues that characterize national security policy. They have updated the work with new material covering nearly twenty years of scholarship, including the history of the American military experience in the Balkans and Somalia, analyzing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2001 to 2012, and providing two new chapters on the Vietnam War.

For the Common Defense examines the nation’s pluralistic military institutions in both peace and war, the tangled civil-military relations that created the country’s commitment to civilian control of the military, the armed forces’ increasing nationalization and professionalization, and America’s growing reliance on sophisticated technologies spawned by the Industrial Revolution and the Computer and Information Ages. This edition is also a timely reminder that vigilance is indeed the price of liberty but that vigilance has always been—and continues to be—a costly, complex, and contentious undertaking in a world that continually tests America’s willingness and ability to provide for the common defense.
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  • Free Press | 
  • 736 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451623536 | 
  • September 2012
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

A Dangerous New World

1607-1689


Crossing the Atlantic during the seventeenth century was a perilous voyage, entailing weeks or months of cramped quarters, inadequate food, and unsanitary conditions. Yet in the late 1500s Englishmen had begun to hazard the venture, and in 1607 they planted their first permanent settlement on the North American continent at Jamestown. By the early 1730s, thirteen separate colonies hugged the seaboard. Although great diversity prevailed among the colonies, most colonists shared a common English heritage and clung to it tenaciously. Their religious attitudes, economic views,... see more

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