The Regulars: The American Army, 1898-1941 / Edition 1

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Overview

In 1898 the American Regular Army was a small frontier constabulary engaged in skirmishes with Indians and protesting workers. Forty-three years later, in 1941, it was a large modern army ready to wage global war against the Germans and the Japanese. In this definitive social history of America's standing army, military historian Edward Coffman tells how that critical transformation was accomplished.

Coffman has spent years immersed in the official records, personal papers, memoirs, and biographies of regular army men, including such famous leaders as George Marshall, George Patton, and Douglas MacArthur. He weaves their stories, and those of others he has interviewed, into the story of an army which grew from a small community of posts in China and the Philippines to a highly effective mechanized ground and air force. During these years, the U.S. Army conquered and controlled a colonial empire, military staff lived in exotic locales with their families, and soldiers engaged in combat in Cuba and the Pacific. In the twentieth century, the United States entered into alliances to fight the German army in World War I, and then again to meet the challenge of the Axis Powers in World War II.

Coffman explains how a managerial revolution in the early 1900s provided the organizational framework and educational foundation for change, and how the combination of inspired leadership, technological advances, and a supportive society made it successful. In a stirring account of all aspects of garrison life, including race relations, we meet the men and women who helped reconfigure America's frontier army into a modern global force.

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist

The second volume of Coffman's magisterial social history of the U.S. Army covers the period from the Spanish-American War to Pearl Harbor...[His] clear narrative does full justice to the army's invaluable school system, the African American units, the transpacific troop transports, and other sometimes ignored themes...Coffman's now two-volume work in turn must be reckoned the outstanding social history of the U.S. Army.
— Roland Green

Washington Sunday Times

This is an exceptionally gracefully written, scrupulously researched, professionally objective, endlessly interesting administrative and social history of a crucial 40 years for the U.S. Army.
— Alan Gropman

Historical Journal

Good histories of military organizations frequently involve extensive investigation of military society and military culture. The methodologies applied by social and cultural historians to other groups can be applied effectively to the military—provided that the historian has made the effort to understand the military's idiosyncrasies. Edward M. Coffman's The Regulars, an account of the transformation of the US army between the end of the nineteenth century and the outbreak of the Second World War, demonstrates that factors such as social support for the military and the transition from an anti-intellectual culture to one that prized education helped turn a small, poorly organized army into a much larger and more competent force.
— Mark Moyar

Russell F. Weigley
Coffman has written a social history of the American Army that is unparalleled. No one else has done, or probably could do, anything like it as a portrayal of Army life from inside.
Rick Atkinson
A work of extraordinary scholarship and insight, written with clarity and wit. Edward Coffman's history of the U.S. Army from the Spanish-American War to the beginning of World War II is the history of an American coming-of-age. Full of splendid character studies, The Regulars is a marvelous story, marvelously told.
John S. D. Eisenhower
Edward Coffman, in The Regulars, has done a masterful job of portraying the Army as it developed between The Spanish-American War and the Second World War. Easy reading and thoroughly researched, it is a book that I found impossible to set down. I was astonished to realize how little I actually knew about the society I grew up in.
Lewis Sorley
A splendid evocation of the soldiers who endured long years of austerity, and of the culture that sustained them as they emerged to create and lead to glory the massed armies of World War II. A marvelous family album of the Regular Army during the years it was evolving into leadership of one of the world's greatest fighting forces.
Allan R. Millett
Coffman's The Regulars provides the definitive collective biography of the officers and men of the Regular Army from 1898 to 1941. Coffman has written another classic.
Brian Linn
This is a marvelous book! Coffman has provided a witty, insightful, and thoroughly informative social history of the U.S. Army's evolution from frontier constabulary to global power. Coffman's approach is holistic, covering the officer corps and enlisted personnel, wives and children, and civil-military relations. His coverage of the Army's long service as protector of America's empire is path -breaking. His extensive research makes this work a model for military and social historians. Coffman is one of the best writers in military history, and he is at the top of his form. A book to be savored and revisited.
Booklist - Roland Green
The second volume of Coffman's magisterial social history of the U.S. Army covers the period from the Spanish-American War to Pearl Harbor...[His] clear narrative does full justice to the army's invaluable school system, the African American units, the transpacific troop transports, and other sometimes ignored themes...Coffman's now two-volume work in turn must be reckoned the outstanding social history of the U.S. Army.
Washington Sunday Times - Alan Gropman
This is an exceptionally gracefully written, scrupulously researched, professionally objective, endlessly interesting administrative and social history of a crucial 40 years for the U.S. Army.
Historical Journal - Mark Moyar
Good histories of military organizations frequently involve extensive investigation of military society and military culture. The methodologies applied by social and cultural historians to other groups can be applied effectively to the military--provided that the historian has made the effort to understand the military's idiosyncrasies. Edward M. Coffman's The Regulars, an account of the transformation of the US army between the end of the nineteenth century and the outbreak of the Second World War, demonstrates that factors such as social support for the military and the transition from an anti-intellectual culture to one that prized education helped turn a small, poorly organized army into a much larger and more competent force.
Booklist
The second volume of Coffman's magisterial social history of the U.S. Army covers the period from the Spanish-American War to Pearl Harbor...[His] clear narrative does full justice to the army's invaluable school system, the African American units, the transpacific troop transports, and other sometimes ignored themes...Coffman's now two-volume work in turn must be reckoned the outstanding social history of the U.S. Army.
— Roland Green
Washington Sunday Times
This is an exceptionally gracefully written, scrupulously researched, professionally objective, endlessly interesting administrative and social history of a crucial 40 years for the U.S. Army.
— Alan Gropman
Historical Journal
Good histories of military organizations frequently involve extensive investigation of military society and military culture. The methodologies applied by social and cultural historians to other groups can be applied effectively to the military--provided that the historian has made the effort to understand the military's idiosyncrasies. Edward M. Coffman's The Regulars, an account of the transformation of the US army between the end of the nineteenth century and the outbreak of the Second World War, demonstrates that factors such as social support for the military and the transition from an anti-intellectual culture to one that prized education helped turn a small, poorly organized army into a much larger and more competent force.
— Mark Moyar
Publishers Weekly
This long-anticipated follow-up to The Old Army: A Portrait of the American Army in Peacetime, 1784-1898 tells the story of the U.S. Army's development from a frontier constabulary to the backbone of the force that decided WWII. Between 1898 and 1941, the army conquered and controlled an empire, led a million men into combat on the western front during the Great War and successfully prepared against all odds during the 1920s and '30s to fight Germany and Japan on a global scale. This achievement involved developing superior professional capabilities. University of Wisconsin emeritus historian Coffman brilliantly describes the managerial revolution of the early 20th century that established the basis for the schools system of the interwar years. The heart of the book, however, is its presentation of the army's character during this era of change. Relying heavily on probing interviews, the text tells the story of a small, distinctive community that at the same time never became isolated from the wider society, despite its prevailing antimilitarism. The officers and enlisted men of the U.S. Army were not typical of their countrymen. They moved frequently, often to unlikely places. The lived under comprehensive regulation, where a playground fight or a spouses' quarrel could shape an entire career. And they accepted an ethic of duty and responsibility in many ways anomalous in a country built on individual freedoms and rights. That did not make them perfect; Coffman in particular establishes the congruent patterns of racism in both army and society. Yet that ethic, Coffman shows, helped keep soldiers from losing touch with the democracy they served. In two world wars, the army was able to absorb millions of mobilized civilians with a minimum of friction, while simultaneously creating a fighting machine that successfully challenged the world's two more militarized societies. If WWII saw the emergence of America's "greatest generation," its framework was provided by Coffman's regulars, wonderfully described here. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
This sequel to Coffman's earlier study, The Old Army: A Portrait of the American Army in Peacetime, 1784-1898, chronicles the growth of the regular army from a 19th-century frontier constabulary force employed during natural disasters, labor disputes, and Indian uprisings to an impressive military power poised to resist fascist aggression on the eve of World War II. Concentrating on the infantry, cavalry, artillery, air corps, and armor, Coffman addresses such topics as the feud between Old Army and New Army advocates; the strategic, tactical, managerial, and technological advances realized as a result of the Spanish-American War and the Great War; the effects of Congress, public opinion, and the world climate on the fortunes of the regulars; the chronic problems of alcoholism, prostitution, and suicide among servicemen; and the frequent tensions arising between military families and the civilian communities. He also provides flesh-and-blood portraits of individuals who laid the groundwork for America's new army: Secretary of War Elihu Root, Chief of staff of the Army George C. Marshall, Douglas MacArthur, George Patton, and others. Coffman's fluid writing style and painstaking research combine to make this a rewarding and enjoyable read. Recommended for all military history collections.-John Carver Edwards, Univ. of Georgia Libs. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674024021
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 4/15/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 528
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Edward M. Coffman is Professor of History, Emeritus, at University of Wisconsin, Madison.
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Table of Contents

Prologue

1. The Army Begins a New Era

2. The Colonial Army

3. Life and Training in the Philippines

4. Enlisted Men in the New Army

5. The Managerial Revolution

6. The War to End All Wars

7. The Army in Limbo

8. Soldiering in the 1920s and 1930s

9. The Army in Pacific Outposts, 1919-1940

10. Mobilizing for War

Postscript

Essay on Sources and Acknowledgments

Notes

Index

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