Battle Historiography as Popular History

Tarak Barkawi, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

Veterans’ history writing constitutes a major public and amateur historiographical tradition in the West extending back to the ancient world. Soldiers and commanders return from war to write or participate in the production of battle histories. This overlap between war experience and the production of history means that veterans write with the authenticity of a participant and the authority of a historian. In this paper, rather than foreground what constitutes proper military history, I ask what kind of history is battle history? What does it tell of and what does it silence? What makes its research, writing and consumption socially meaningful? Widely read in modern times, especially in the Anglo-American West, soldiers’ histories constitute a principal site where citizens and future soldiers make sense of war.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 175. What is the "Historical" In Historical Sociology?