Course Syllabus

“War, at the best, is terrible.”  –Abraham Lincoln, 1864


  • Echevarria, Antulio J. Reconsidering the American Way of War. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2014. [LIBRARY]
  • McPherson, James M. Tried By War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief. New York: Penguin Press, 2008. [RESERVES]

Additional Readings & Resources

  • Boyer, Deborah, ed.“Remembering WWI.” Villanova University [WEB]
  • Calhoun, William. “Washington at Newburgh.” CRB, March 15, 2005 [WEB]
  • Campbell, D’Ann. “Women in Combat: The World War II Experience.” Journal of Military History 57 (April 1993): 301-23 [JSTOR]
  • Cohen, Eliot, Conrad Crane, Jan Horvath, and John Nagl, “Principles, Imperatives, and Paradoxes of Counterinsurgency.” Military Review (March/April 2006): 49-53 [WEB]
  • Hemmer, Nicole. “The madman theory” has existed for decades,” VOX, 1/4/17 [WEB]
  • Hickey, Donald R. “Andrew Jackson and the Army Haircut.” Tennessee Historical Quarterly 35 (Winter 1976): 365-75 [JSTOR]
  • Kamber, Michael. “How Not to Depict A War.” New York Times, March 1, 2010 [WEB]
  • Kohn, Richard H. “Social History of American Soldier.” AHR 86 (June 1981): 553-67 [JSTOR]
  • Kohn, Richard H. “Out of Control: The Crisis in Civil-Military Relations.” National Interest 35 (Spring 1994): 3-17 [JSTOR]
  • Kohn, Richard H. “Tarnished Brass: Is the US Military Profession in Decline?” World Affairs 171 (Spring 2011): 73-83 [JSTOR]
  • Leal, David L., “Students in Uniform: ROTC, the Citizen-Soldier, and the Civil-Military Gap.” PS: Political Science and Politics 40 (July 2007): 479-83 [JSTOR]
  • Lembcke, Jerry. “Myth of Spitting Antiwar Protestor.” New York Times, 10/13/17 [WEB]
  • Locke, Joseph and Ben Wright, eds. American Yawp. 2017-18 ed. [WEB]
  • Logevall, Fredrik. “Rethinking ‘McNamara’s War.’” New York Times, 11/28/2017 [WEB]
  • Marsh, Calum. “Lone Survivor’s Takeaway: Every War Movie Is a Pro-War Movie.” The Atlantic, January 10, 2014 [WEB]
  • McCausland, Jeffrey. “Gulf War’s Anniversary,” War on the Rocks, Jan. 17, 2016 [WEB]
  • Pinsker, Matthew. “Lincoln and War Powers.”  Lincoln’s Writings, 2016 [WEB]
  • Suri, Jeremy. “The Nukes of October.” WIRED, February 25, 2008 [WEB]

Midterm Exam

On Tuesday, February 27, students will take a midterm essay exam covering material from Antulio Echevarria’s study, Reconsidering the American Way of War (2014).  Possible questions will be distributed in advance.  The best answers will demonstrate an ability to support a thoughtful interpretation with strong evidence, including short quotations, striking statistics and careful, chronological references to important events and historical figures.

Civil War Battle Map

By Monday, April 2 [REVISED], students are required to post a Google map which they have designed to illustrate the story of a Civil War battle.  Each map should be embedded within a short blog post (about 600 – 800 words) at the course website that describes the battle using citations to multiple secondary sources.  The maps themselves should contain about 8-10 place marks (or entries) that each includes a public domain historic image and brief excerpted text from official after-action reports available in the multi-volume series The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (1880-1901).  The OR (as it is called) is available online, on the stacks at the college library (E464 .U6 ser. 1 v.1 //1880) or by appointment at the House Divided Studio (61 N. West).  Students may also use the companion naval series:  Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies (1894-1922), available online or at the college library (E591 .U58 ser. 1 v.1 // 1894). The map place marks should be positioned in correct geographical position and should be arranged in chronological order on the left-hand navigation column. Late maps will be penalized up to 5 points per day.

Battle Papers and Projects

By Monday, April 23, students will submit an 8- to 10-page narrative research paper on a significant battle or engagement in U.S. military history (before 2001).  All papers should use a variety of primary and secondary sources, covering at least three types of perspectives:  American forces, enemy forces, and civilians.  Good narratives will cover the essential chronology of the battle, but will also provide wide-ranging historical context that includes an explanation of how this story illustrates the evolving “American way of war.”  Good papers will always begin with a compelling thesis statement or interpretative framework.  All papers should include a title page with descriptive title and Chicago-style footnotes.  No bibliography is required, but appendixes may be appropriate.  Papers should be submitted as Word documents by email.  Late papers will be penalized up to 5 points per day.

By Monday, May 7, students should post a final battle project on their own Weebly site.  Each project should be designed as an online teaching exhibit, revised from material submitted earlier in the battle paper (April 20) and focusing on conveying a multi-dimensional perspective (American forces, enemy forces, civilians).  Once again, students should employ a variety of primary and secondary sources, but now benefiting from the online platform, they should strive to find ways to provide full-text access to primary sources whenever available.  Most important, students should strive to engage classroom audiences with visual and multi-media tools such as image slideshows, maps, timelines, podcasts, or videos.  Students may embed multi-media elements from outside sources, but they must take care to credit those sources properly.  All material at the student-produced websites must be properly credited, captioned or sourced, though not necessarily in Chicago-style footnotes.  Students should submit a link to their website by email to Prof. Pinsker.  Late projects will be penalized up to 5 points per day.

Grade Distribution

Class Participation                  20 percent

Midterm exam                         20 percent

Civil War maps                        20 percent

Battle papers                           20 percent

Battle projects                         20 percent


Day Date Discussion Topic Reading Assignment
Tuesday 1/23 Methods & Expectations Lincoln’s advice
Thursday 1/25 American Soldier Kohn 1981 article
Part 1:  Overview
Tuesday 1/30 American Way of War Echevarria, chap. 1
Thursday 2/1 American Strategy and Culture Echevarria, chaps. 2-3
Tuesday 2/6 From Independence to Empire Echevarria, ch. 4 / Yawp, 5, 7, 12
Thursday 2/8 Hard Hand of 19th-Century War Echevarria, ch. 5 / Yawp, 14,17,19
Tuesday 2/13 Fighting Overseas Echevarria, chap. 6 / Yawp, 21, 24
Thursday 2/15 Recent Wars Echevarria, chap. 7 / Yawp, 30
Tuesday 2/20 NO CLASS
Thursday 2/23 American Policy and Practice Echevarria, conclusion
Tuesday 2/27 Midterm
Thursday 3/1 From Washington to Jackson Calhoun and Hickey articles / Yawp, 9
Part 2:  Civil War
Tuesday 3/6 Organizing for Civil War McPherson, chaps. 1-2  // Seward’s memo // Dickinson
Thursday 3/8 Lincoln and McClellan McPherson, chaps. 3-5 // Elsner
Tuesday 3/13 SPRING RECESS
Thursday 3/15 SPRING RECESS
Tuesday 3/20 Politics and War:  1863 McPherson, chaps. 6-7 // Lucena’s letter
Thursday 3/22 Technology of War McPherson, chap. 8
Thursday 3/22 Required Lecture:  Stephen Walt ATS, 7pm
Tuesday 3/27 Grant v. Lee McPherson, chap. 9 + army structure
Thursday 3/29 Sherman’s March + War Powers McPherson, chap. 10, epilogue + Pinsker site
Monday 4/2 Civil War maps due By 5pm
Part 3:  Special Topics
Tuesday 4/3 Remembering World War I Boyer WWI project
Thursday 4/5 Remembering Vietnam Lembcke and Logevall essays

Clips:  Fog of War // Cronkite // Nixon

Thursday 4/5 Required Lecture: John Bodnar 630pm // Stern
Tuesday 4/10 Remembering Gulf War // Special Guest: Jeff McCausland McCausland essay
Thursday 4/12 War & Hollywood Kamber and Marsh essays
Tuesday 4/17 Nuclear Strategy:  Madman Theory Suri and Hemmer essays
Thursday 4/19 COIN Doctrine // Special Guest: Conrad Crane Cohen/Crane essay




Gettysburg field trip

Battle papers due

930am – 230pm (optional)

By 5pm

Tuesday 4/24 Women at Arms // Grace Hopper Campbell article
Thursday 4/26 Don’t Ask –Don’t Tell Crisis Kohn 1994 article
Tuesday 5/1 History of ROTC Leal article
Thursday 5/3 Lessons & Legacies Kohn 2011 article
Monday 5/7 Battle Projects due By 5pm