The Compleat Victory: Saratoga and the American Revolution
By Kevin Weddle
Recorded live May 20, 2021
On May 20, 2021, U.S. Army War College professor Kevin J. Weddle joined the National Museum of the United States Army to discuss his new book on one of the crucial turning points of the American War for Independence, “The Compleat Victory: Saratoga and the American Revolution.”
In the late summer and fall of 1777, after two years of indecisive fighting on both sides, the outcome of the American War of Independence hung in the balance. Having successfully expelled the Americans from Canada in 1776, the British were determined to end the rebellion the following year and devised what they believed a war-winning strategy: sending General John Burgoyne south to rout the Americans and take Albany.
When British forces captured Fort Ticonderoga with unexpected ease in July of 1777, it looked as if it was a matter of time before they would break the rebellion in the North. Less than three and a half months later, however, a combination of the Continental Army and Militia forces, commanded by Major General Horatio Gates and inspired by the heroics of Benedict Arnold forced Burgoyne to surrender his entire army. The American victory stunned the world and changed the course of the war. In the end, British plans were undone by a combination of distance, geography, logistics, and an underestimation of American leadership and fighting ability.
Kevin J. Weddle is Professor of Military Theory and Strategy at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. A West Point graduate, he served in the U.S. Army for 28 years on active duty in command and staff positions in the United States and overseas, including Operations Desert Storm and Enduring Freedom, before retiring as a colonel.
The Women with Silver Wings: The Inspiring True Story of the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II
By Katherine Landdeck
Recorded live March 18, 2021
On March 18, 2021 Katherine Landdeck joined the National Museum of the United States Army for a virtual discussion about her new book, “The Women with Silver Wings: The Inspiring True Story of the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II.”
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Cornelia Fort was already in the air. At 22, Fort had escaped Nashville’s debutante scene for a fresh start as a flight instructor in Hawaii. She and her student were in the middle of their lesson when the bombs began to fall, and they barely made it back to ground that morning. Still, when the U.S. Army Air Forces put out a call for women pilots to aid the war effort, Fort was one of the first to respond. She became one of just over 1,100 women from across the nation to make it through the Army’s rigorous selection process and earn her silver wings.
The brainchild of trailblazing pilots Nancy Love and Jacqueline Cochran, the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) gave women like Fort a chance to serve their country—and to prove that women aviators were just as skilled as men. While not authorized to serve in combat, the WASP helped train male pilots for service abroad, and ferried bombers and pursuits across the country. Thirty-eight WASP would not survive the war. But even taking into account these tragic losses, Love and Cochran’s social experiment seemed to be a resounding success—until, with the tides of war turning, Congress clipped the women’s wings. The program was disbanded, the women sent home. But the bonds they’d forged never failed, and over the next few decades they came together to fight for recognition as the military veterans they were—and for their place in history.
Katherine Sharp Landdeck, is a writer, Associate Professor at Texas Woman’s University, and globally recognized expert on the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II, the subject of her debut book, “The Women With Silver Wings.” A Guggenheim Fellow at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and a graduate of the University of Tennessee, where she was a Normandy Scholar and earned her Ph.D. in American History, Landdeck has received numerous awards for her work on the WASP and has appeared as an expert on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” PBS, and the History channel. Her work has been published in “The Washington Post,” “The Atlantic,” and “Time,” as well as in numerous academic and aviation publications.
Colin Powell: Imperfect Patriot
By Jeffrey J. Matthews
Recorded live February 18, 2021
For the past three decades, Colin Powell has been among America’s most trusted and admired leaders. This biography demonstrates that Powell’s decades-long development as an exemplary subordinate is crucial to understanding his astonishing rise from a working-class immigrant neighborhood to the highest echelons of military and political power.
Powell became an extraordinarily effective and staunchly loyal subordinate to many powerful superiors who, in turn, helped to advance his career. By the time Powell became chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he had developed into the consummate follower―motivated, competent, composed, honorable, and independent.
The quality of Powell’s followership faltered at times, however, while in Vietnam, during the Iran-Contra scandal, and after he became George W. Bush’s secretary of state. Powell proved a fallible patriot, and in the course of a long and distinguished career he made some grave and consequential errors in judgment. While those blunders do not erase the significance of his commendable achievements amid decades of public service, they are failures nonetheless.
“Imperfect Patriot” is the fascinating story of Powell’s professional life, and of what we can learn from both his good and bad followership. The book is written for a broad readership, and will be of special interest to readers of military history, political biography, and leadership.
Jeffrey J. Matthews is the George Frederick Jewett Distinguished Professor at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. He teaches American history and leadership, and has written or edited three previous books, including “Blacksheep Leadership” and “The Art of Command: Military Leadership from George Washington to Colin Powell.”
Victory or Death: The Battles of Trenton and Princeton, December 25, 1776-January 3, 1777
By Mark Maloy
Recorded live January 21, 2021
On January 21, 2021 Mark Maloy joined the National Museum of the United States Army for a virtual discussion of his book “Victory or Death: The Battles of Trenton and Princeton, December 25, 1776-January 3, 1777.” In December 1776, just six months after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, General George Washington and the Continental Army sat on the verge of utter destruction by the banks of the Delaware River at the hands of their British enemy. The despondent and demoralized group of American soldiers had endured repeated defeats and now were on the edge of giving up hope. Washington feared “the game is pretty near up.” But rather than submit to defeat, Washington and his small band of soldiers crossed the ice-choked Delaware River and attacked the Hessian garrison at Trenton, New Jersey on the day after Christmas. He followed up the surprise attack with successful actions along the Assunpink Creek and at Princeton. In a stunning military campaign, Washington had turned the tables, and breathed life into the dying cause for liberty during the Revolutionary War, which was one of the most significant military campaigns in American history.
Mark Maloy is a historian in the National Park Service in Virginia. He holds an undergraduate degree in History from the College of William and Mary and a graduate degree in History from George Mason University. He has worked at numerous public historic sites and archaeological digs for the past ten years, and is a regular contributor to the blog Emerging Revolutionary War, emergingrevolutionarywar.org. He resides in Alexandria, Virginia.