|From my library.|
I started reading military history in childhood, beginning with juvenile books from the library. I never stopped reading it and I'm in the middle of something even now, four decades on.
As a child I'd seen war movies: John Wayne, Audie Murphy, Clint Eastwood. I'd seen action movies: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone. When you read military history in your youth you see war as a movie.
|The Wilder Brigade Monument at Chickamauga National Battlefield in 2014. I used to bicycle and run there a lot when I lived in Georgia. Dozens of Confederate soldiers died in this field and in the ditch that was just to the right out of photo.|
As you grow and learn, you realize that war isn't a movie. War is destructive, injurious, murderous, tragic. I knew this academically before my family moved to the south but it was visiting the battlefields of the US Civil War that transformed my views. You look at a field and an interpretive sign says it was covered with dead and dying soldiers and you start to realize that war isn't entertainment. Men sometimes lost their lives by the hundreds in a matter of minutes.
I retain my interest in military history. I consume books, articles, and documentary videos with voracity. But the more I learn of it the more I am sickened by war. Military history is an emotional hobby. This is part of the interest, but it changes you and informs your opinion on contemporary world events.
You often hear people who've served in combat say that war should be less frequent but more terrible. Although I never served, I share that opinion. Pacifism is impractical, and war sometimes inevitable, but I say if you have to fight then do it as quick and dirty as you can.