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Posted on Dec 21, 2003 in History News

Editor’s Welcome: Bringing Color Back to History

By Brian King

There are few subjects in this world that interest me more than military history. I have been fascinated, almost since before I could walk, with this horrible thing called war. As a child I played with toy soldiers and tanks, and was somehow blessed (or cursed) with an early understanding that these were not just plastic figures but represented real men, real machines, and real history. My emergent interest in books and movies gravitated toward war, as I was compelled to learn all I could about military history, warfare, and the men and machines forced into service under the worst conditions possible.

Having grown up in the peace and prosperity of the 70′s and 80′s I could hardly relate to the tales of my grandfather as he recounted his tour with the Army Air Corps in the China-Burma-India theatre. War on such a grand scale was something I had read about for years, but my eyes only truly opened after imagining my mild-mannered grandfather flying "the hump" over Tibet, just trying to survive the world conflagration going on around him. Sadly, he passed away just as I was realizing the storehouse of history he could have shared, had I only known the questions to ask.

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Pieces of my grandfather’s history…

Today, I do know the questions to ask. Armed with a website and a capable staff, I would like to explore those questions with our readers, and search for the answers. History, and specifically military history, should not be a footnote in a classroom book with a listing of casualty figures and an "Allies Win" caption at the end. Sometimes the "allies" lose. With our current world situation, it is more important than ever to look back on the lessons of history which, tragically, often repeats itself despite our best intentions.

Likewise, history is not the black and white world we often associate with the Civil War, The Great War and to a large extent the Second World War. It is easy to forget those were real men and women, with the same concerns about life we all share. My grandfather was not "black and white," and he had a colorful story to tell. I wish I could have presented it here, but his and many other stories like his have been lost forever.

Armchair General strives to be different than your usual black and white military history magazine or website. First and foremost, we want to insert the reader into history, to flush out the colors, and try to understand why those before us fought, bled, retreated, attacked, cowered, led, followed, survived, and died. We want to use a wide variety of methods such as war games, interactive fiction, reenactments, photo-recreations, paintball, and personal accounts of combat operations to give the reader a taste of the agony of grand strategy, as well as the squish of mud as you hunker down in a lone foxhole.

For those of us with a background in military history, this site is intended to provide a place to share knowledge and help others realize the significance of our passion. At Armchair General we aim to keep things intelligent without turning pedantic. Nothing will turn someone away faster than belittling them because they don’t know the difference between a "Sherman" and a "Grant." We try to remain accessible to even the most casual historian, even though we might pack away research material on the website to prepare for the day they want to dig deeper.

The magazine and the web site are intertwined, and yes we tirelessly promote the printed copy and would be thrilled to have people subscribe to our magazine, as ultimately that is what provides us with the resources to maintain our place on this World Wide Web. At the same time, we want to stand apart and wiggle down some of these nooks and crannies to places the magazine doesn’t have the ability to follow. These include the compilation of reader-submitted articles and fiction, personal accounts of combat by soldiers of all nations, and the Armchair General community forums. These allow anyone with the ability to put "pen to paper" to share their story, and get recognized by their peers. Additionally, we are on the lookout for volunteers to help take command of various sections and time-periods on the website which could eventually lead to paid work. Anything is possible for those with a passion.

This website has given me a place to share my personal exploration of warfare and history, just as it gives that same opportunity to my fellow historians, reenactors, gamers, and ex-warriors. Together, we can all work towards putting some color back into those old photographs that have been stashed away and sometimes forgotten up in the dusty attic of history.

Welcome to Armchair General.

 

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