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Demystifying the American Military


The United States military has evolved from a tiny and distrusted institution at the margins of government into a central element of America and American power, yet the military is sometimes hard to comprehend because of its unique language, history, and culture. Paula Thornhill first provides a primer for understanding America’s military services. She then traces the military’s evolution from the nation’s founding through the present day to reveal how major American experiences repeatedly reshape the military. This examination offers a constant reminder that the armed services are the products of experience and accident. Thus, today’s twenty-first century military reflects patterns of adaptation and agglomeration, and so may only partially reveal the ideal military America would build if starting from a blank slate.  Ultimately, this book seeks to open a window into the American military in such a way that the reader can see it, for good or for ill, for what it fundamentally is—a reflection of the nation, its priorities, and its people.

About the Author

Paula G. Thornhill retired from the U.S. Air Force as a brigadier general. She commanded at the group level and served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, on the Air Staff, at U.S. Strategic Command, and as the special assistant to the 15th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She is now a senior researcher at the RAND Corporation and adjunct faculty at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies