Marcus Cunliffe

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Marcus Cunliffe (1922–1990), was a British historian who specialized in American Studies, especially military and cultural history. Cunliffe stressed the powerful influence of Americans' cultural beliefs about their own natural military capacity, reinforced by a latent dislike of military professionals, on the nature and performance of the militia/volunteers. Cunliffe pointed the way to the "new military history" in his Soldiers and Civilians: The Martial Spirit in America, 1775–1865 (1968). Cunliffe explored American "exceptionalism" and the national desire it promotes to look inward rather than outward. Cunliffe forcefully argues that the United States was less exceptional than many American writers believe. He always emphasizes the interconnections between Western cultures. Living in Washington in the 1980s, he perhaps reacted against the conservatism of the Ronald Reagan years; but his writing invariably stressed the European (and especially British) roots of American military ideas.

Bibliography

  • Marcus Cunliffe and Robin W. Winks, eds.Pastmasters: Some Essays on American Historians (1969)
  • Marcus Cunliffe. Soldiers and Civilians: The Martial Spirit in America, 1775–1865 (1968).
  • Reid, Brian Holden. "Cunliffe, Marcus Falkner," in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (2004), 14:655–57, also online edition
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