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APSU professors complete work on two-volume study of American military history

            CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – The discussion of American military history can be approached in a seemingly endless variety of ways. With so many tactical, political and societal viewpoints to be considered, even the most educated scholars or enthusiastic students can become lost in a sea of information.

But what if the focus was narrowed to the people, places and events at the core of these historic conflicts?

            CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – The discussion of American military history can be approached in a seemingly endless variety of ways. With so many tactical, political and societal viewpoints to be considered, even the most educated scholars or enthusiastic students can become lost in a sea of information.

But what if the focus was narrowed to the people, places and events at the core of these historic conflicts?

Two Austin Peay State University professors aimed to find out those answers, editing a massive, two-volume military and historical work – “The Routledge Handbook of American Military and Diplomatic History.”

“We tried to find things that are very important to (American military history), but were less covered in other academic books,” Dr. Antonio Thompson, APSU associate professor of history, said. “We wanted to make sure the topics we covered were things that historians, and therefore students of history, would find important, but were not in your average history book.”

In association with academic book publisher Routledge press, Thompson and fellow associate professor of history Dr. Christos Frentzos set out in 2009 to create a list of important, but unique, topics. From the contributions of African-Americans in the Civil War to the role of women in World War II, the two professors aimed to offer a fresh look at some of the more underexplored dynamics of these major conflicts.

“For instance, there is an essay covering the Emancipation Proclamation, and how it was used by (U.S. President Abraham) Lincoln as a war strategy during the Civil War,” Frentzos said. “Lincoln used the speech to garner international support for the Union cause in order to show that the war was not just against the south, but there was a higher moral issue. Lincoln wanted to make it more difficult for England and France to support the Confederacy, and his speech was a brilliant way to do just that.”

Volume I of the work features about 40 essays from both renowned historians and up-and-coming academics, focusing on the colonial period in America up to reconstruction. Volume II includes another 40 essays dealing with American history from 1865 to the present War on Terror.

 “Everything in here is original and we did not accept any previously published materials,” Thompson said. “Even the senior scholars who contributed works had to write something new. It was challenging for everyone, but (the authors) were excited and willing to (present a fresh look at the conflicts).”

As each essay focuses on a very specific subject, Thompson and Frentzos remarked on choosing to begin every chapter with a broader historiographical essay, or a work focused on the many ways historians have viewed that time period.

“Each chapter has a historiographical essay that talks about the history of what has been written about a war,” Frentzos said. “The essay is not about the war itself, but rather the history of the different things that scholars have said about the war. We want students to quickly get caught up with the different views and interpretations of each topic before they get into specific essays.”

The professors said response to the two-volume work has been positive from both the academic and consumer markets.

“When we got the final published copies of the books, Dr. Frentzos and I both were really honored by the positive comments we received from pretty big names in our field who did not work on this book,” Thompson said. “The other big takeaway is that there are a lot of people who contributed to this book that we can now call colleagues.”

“For us, those are the really big takeaways – to know that we both contributed something to the study of American history, and that people recognize the work we did here.”

Both books are now available for sale on amazon.com. For more information on the book or Frentzos and Thompson, contact them at frentzosc@apsu.edu or thompsonas@apsu.edu.

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Photo cutline: Associate Professors of History Dr. Christos Frentzos and Dr. Antonio Thompson edited the book, “The Routledge Handbook of American Military and Diplomatic History: The Colonial Period to 1877.” (Taylor Slifko, APSU)