Since the first English settlers landed at Jamestown with the legacy of centuries of European warfare in tow, the military has been an omnipresent part of America. In American Military History: A Very Short Introduction, Joseph T. Glatthaar explores this relationship from its origins in the thirteen colonies to today's ongoing conflicts in the Middle East.
During the Revolutionary War, tension grew between local militias and a standing army. The Founding Fathers attempted to strike a balance, enshrining an army, navy, and a "well-regulated Militia" in the Constitution. The US soon witnessed the rise of a professional military, a boon to its successes in the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the Civil War. However, after the Civil War, the US struggled to learn that the purpose of a peacetime army is to prepare for war.
When war did arrive, it arrived with a vengeance, gutting the trenches of the Great War with effective innovations: tanks, planes, machine guns, and poison gas. The US embraced the technology that would win both world wars and change the nature of battle in the Second World War. The US emerged from World War II as the most powerful nation in the war, but over the next several decades it was forced to confront the limits of its power. The nuclear era brought encounters defined by stalemate--from the Cold War conflicts of Korea and Vietnam to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Since 9/11, the US has been frustrated by unconventional warfare, including terrorism and cyberwar, largely negating the technological advantage it had held. Glatthaar examines all these challenges, looking to the future of the U.S. military and its often proud and complicated legacy.