Official Historians and Academic Historians: Bridging the Gap in Military History

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Perspectives in History: The Newsmagazine of the American Historical Association


It is one of the peculiarities of the historical profession that those who do official history for the military services and other government agencies are largely anonymous to the broader academic community of historians, including, to a degree, academic military historians. Are official historians really so disconnected from their academic counterparts? Or, is it that academic historians are aloof and disdainful toward official history and thus purposefully ignore the work and world of official historians? There has always been a gap between academic and official historians, but the gap is getting smaller, and will continue to do so if academic and official historians make efforts to simply better know each other. Official and academic historians who do military history are trodding a similar path, but they are doing so in two entirely different worlds. Both seek truth in history, and both want to establish and maintain a sense of historic mindedness in their audiences, be they students, service members, or the American public.