Friday, February 01, 2013

Excellence in Historiography: SE Morison's Two-Ocean War

Among the many pleasures of reading Samuel Eliot Morison (I'm almost through his Two Ocean War: A Short History of the United States Navy in the Second World War; Atlantic-Little, Brown, 1963, 610 pages.) are the wide breadth (and depth) of his research; his willingness to see the long view of historical developments; and a pronounced willingness to identify with moral principles, high ideals, and heroic personages instead of skulking behind the pose of complete objectivity.

Morison is not only educational, he is at times entertaining, and quite often, downright inspirational. His doesn't try to hide his opinions as most modern historians do. He is honest enough to state them...but wise and responsible enough to back them up with facts and a balanced perspective.

Most modern historians, however, have a bucketful of "progressive" assumptions, poses and presuppositions with which they drench their historiography, all the while insisting that they alone are the indifferent and objective spectators. Poppycock. Give me an honest and candidly involved historian every time. Give me Shelby Foote, Walter Lord, John Toland, David McCullough, Antonia Fraser, Roland Bainton, Paul Johnson, Stephen Ambrose, Bruce Catton, William Prescott, Basil Liddell Hart, Alexander Solzhenitsyn...

And yes, give me Read Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison too.

I recommend Two-Ocean War most highly.