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For the Common Defense

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  213 ratings  ·  16 reviews
Now fully updated and totally revised, this highly regarded classic remains the most comprehensive study available of America’s military history.Dubbed “the preeminent survey of American military history” (Russell F. Weigley, author of The American Way of War), For the Common Defense has established itself as an essential fixture in the field. In this major revision, autho ...more
Paperback, 720 pages
Published September 7th 1994 by Free Press (first published 1984)
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Mike Hankins
This is a solid overview of the major events in American Military History. One the one hand, it does a wonderful job of incorporating several different elements. It's not just an operational history, and rarely does it delve into detailed operations (although occasionally, yes it does). Mostly its concerned with policy issues, and the broader social questions that come along with a study of military history. Issues from technology to economic and social influences, to logistics, politics, and th ...more
Those looking for a bird's eye view of U.S. military history and policy may find this interesting, but given the book's scope (1500s to 1970s) it is an understandably broad brush picture. The author does a decent job at providing some of the social and political context guiding military policy makers, while avoiding overt judgement of the efficacy of their decisions.
An amazingly detailed and accurate look at US military history by two of the leading professors in the field.

Don't be surprised if you find that its dry, it is a textbook after all. Still, for the military enthusiast I would say its a must-read for its comprehnsiveness and analyses.
Dec 17, 2010 Steven added it
Very detailed history of the building of the American empire. Great detail of just how important the Spanish-American War was to the current status as America as world policeman.
Jeffrey Williams
This is the third edition of this very well researched book. Millett, Maslowski and Feis truly have written the preeminent survey book for understanding American Military History. Though they spend a lot of time discussing policy and concepts, very little in the tactical realm, they cover a lot of material and do it very well. This is a MUST READ for anybody who wants an introductory look at military history.
Guy Nasuti
I use this book for a course I teach on American History called The American Military Experience. It covers the period from the Colonial Era up until the Gulf War. It packs a ton of information into a concise history of our nation's military exploits, but is one of the best I have read on the subject. It can tend to jump around though, and I've found the students can get confused with the dates and the years on occasion, but overall it is a great book and it's very readable, not dry or boring as ...more
This book was actually read for a course that I took a few years back (Military History). The book is used as a text book, but if you want a complete understanding of the American Military Machine. This book summarizes the beginning of the American Military from colonial times and works through periods of conflict. This book is an excellent reference book for a quick overview of the various military engagements that the United States has been involved in.
Howard Anders
This was required reading for a course I took in US Military History. It is a survey of US military history, and therefore does not go into any great detail on any one segment of that history. In comparing it with another survey volume, the the US Government publication, "American Military History" used in many college ROTC courses, "For the Common Defense" is more readable and less biased toward the military. I highly recommend it.
This book has a lot of great history of battles, but it is very dry. I will have to try and read it again as there is a lot of information on Americas military history that we all should know.
Fredrick Danysh
Analyzes and explores the military conflicts of the United States. It looks at the political, social, and economic forces relating to these conflicts.
Darren Sapp
This remains the standard bearer for U.S. Military History because it's readable. It's accurate and thorough, but remains readable. A feat unto itself.
Sean Chick
The prose is dry but I like the attention to matters between wars, the colonial period, and the balanced view of civilian/military relations.
Nothing extraordinary about the arguments here, but good as a core text for a military history undergrad class.
Overview of US military campaigns from the colonial era through Viet Nam. Not a page turner.
U.S. Military History.
Nov 21, 2009 Jonathan added it
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In 2008, The Pritzker Military Library Literature Award was presented to Allan R. Millett, author of many books including Semper Fidelis: The History of the United States Marine Corps; The Politics of Intervention: The Military Occupation of Cuba, 1906-1909; The General: Robert L. Bullard and Officership in the United States Army; and In Many a Strife: General Gerald C. Thomas and the U.S. Marine ...more
More about Allan R. Millett...
Semper Fidelis: The History of the United States Marine Corps (The Macmillan Wars of the United States) The War for Korea, 1950-1951: They Came from the North The War for Korea, 1945-1950: A House Burning Military Effectiveness, Volume 1: The First World War The General: Robert L. Bullard and Officership in the United States Army, 1881-1925

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