Bringing together government professionals, academics, consultants, students, and citizens interested in understanding federal history work and the historical development of the federal government.


Recent Publications

taking-the-offensiveTaking the Offensive, October 1966–September 1967
By Glenn F. Williams
Domestic Publication Date: 30 November 2016
GPO S/N: 008-029-00615-4 (Paper); CMH Pub 76-4
Pp. 88; illustrations, maps, further readings

The U.S. Army Center of Military History is pleased to present a new pamphlet in the U.S. Army Campaigns of the Vietnam War series. Taking the Offensive, October 1966–September 1967, by Glenn F. Williams, begins with a discussion of Operation ATTLEBORO in Tay Ninh Province. The largest allied operation to date in the war, ATTLEBORO forced the 9th PLAF Division to abandon its attack on Suoi Da Special Forces camp and cost over 1,000 enemy lives. Additional action in War Zone C, including Operations CEDAR FALLS, JUNCTION CITY, and JUNCTION CITY II, highlight the U.S. Army effort to disrupt the network of camps and supply stores of the North Vietnamese main force units through ground and air assault. Operations in Binh Dinh Province—THAYER I, THAYER II, PERSHING, and LEJUNE—continued to inflict heavy losses on the enemy. The efforts of the U.S. Army throughout Vietnam during this time allowed for growing political stability in South Vietnam leading up to the 3 September 1967 election. This pamphlet contains 12 maps and 15 illustrations.

virginia-campaignThe Virginia Campaigns, March–August 1862
by Christopher Kolakowski
Wash., DC: Center of Military History, 2016
GPO S/N: 008-029-00602-2 (Paper); CMH Pub 75-5
Pp. 68; illustrations, maps, further readings

The Virginia Campaigns, March–August 1862, by Christopher Kolakowski, covers key battles in the Commonwealth of Virginia including Malvern Hill, Glendale, Gaines’ Mill, Mechanicsville, and Second Bull Run. It also discusses the changes made in leadership of the Union command as President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton assumed direction of the war.

National Park Roads 4772National Park Roads:  A Legacy in the American Landscape
By Timothy Davis

Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 2016
Pp. 352: 11 x 12, 249 b&w and color illustrations, cloth ISBN 978-0-8139-3776-2

Millions of visitors tour America’s national parks, but few understand the extent to which roads shape their experience or pause to consider when, why, or how the routes they travel on were built. This exhaustively researched and attractively illustrated book highlights the unique qualities of park roads, details the factors influencing their design and development, and examines their role in shaping the national park experience. Not only do park roads determine what most visitors see and how they see it, but decisions about when, where, and how to build roads epitomize the central challenge of national park management: balancing preservation and access in America’s most treasured landscapes. National Park Roads:  A Legacy in the American Landscape tells this story in a manner that is accessible to general readers yet rich with insights for engineers, landscape architects, historic preservationists, and others concerned with park transportation and the stewardship of America’s natural and cultural resources.

National Duties: Custom Houses and the Making of the American State
By Gautham RaoNational Duties 9780226367071

Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016
Pp. 272; Tables, bibliography, index

“Left millions of dollars of debt by the war, the nascent federal government created a system of taxes on imported goods and installed custom houses at the nation’s ports, which were charged with collecting these fees. Gradually, the houses amassed enough revenue from import merchants to stabilize the new government. But, as the fragile United States was dependent on this same revenue, the merchants at the same time gained outsized influence over the daily affairs of the custom houses. As the United States tried to police this commerce in the early nineteenth century, the merchants’ stranglehold on custom house governance proved to be formidable. . . . In National Duties, Gautham Rao makes the case that the origins of the federal government and the modern American state lie in these conflicts at government custom houses between the American Revolution and the presidency of Andrew Jackson. He argues that the contours of the government emerged from the push-and-pull between these groups, with commercial interests gradually losing power to the administrative state, which only continued to grow and lives on today.”

cs_web_WitSWar in the Shallows: U.S. Navy Coastal and Riverine Warfare in Vietnam, 1965–1968

By John Darrell Sherwood

Wash., DC: Naval History and Heritage Command, Department of the Navy, 2015
Pp. 425; illustrations, maps, bibliography, index; ISBN 978-0-945274-76-6 (hardcover)

At the height of the U.S. Navy’s involvement in the Vietnam War, the Navy’s coastal and riverine forces included more than 30,000 Sailors and over 350 patrol vessels ranging in size from riverboats to destroyers. These forces developed the most extensive maritime block­ade in modern naval history and fought pitched battles against Viet Cong units in the Mekong Delta and elsewhere. War in the Shallows explores the operations of the Navy’s three inshore task forces from 1965 to 1968. It also delves into other themes such as basing, technology, tactics, and command and control. Finally, using oral history inter­views, it reconstructs deckplate life in South Vietnam, focusing in particular on combat waged by ordinary Sailors. Available at

USMC Greene PapersThe Greene Papers: General Wallace M. Greene Jr. and the Escalation of the Vietnam War, January 196 –March 1965

Edited by Nicholas J. Schlosser

Quantico, Virginia: History Division, United States Marine Corps, 2015
Pp. 416; illustrations, bibliography, index

The Greene Papers is an edited volume of the personal papers of Gen. Wallace M. Greene, Jr., who served on the Joints Chief of Staff during the height of the Vietnam War. “The Vietnam War was the first major American war in which the Commandant of the Marine Corps served as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the critical years leading up to the conflict and for the entire duration of the conflict. For the first time, a Marine Corps Commandant was tasked with making strategic decisions on the same level as the Chiefs of the Air Force, Army, and Navy. As a result, a volume examining the Marine Corps’ leadership before and during the war strengthens our understanding of how the Commandant approached and balanced his traditional duties as a Service chief with the new responsibility of serving as a military advisor to the commander in chief, President Johnson.” The volume can be accessed online at or you can email the press and request a free copy at

HS_COVERHistorical Studies in the Societal Impact of Spaceflight

Edited by Steven J. Dick

Wash., DC: NASA History Program Office, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2015
Pp. 664; illustrations, bibliography, index

This volume presents a series of in-depth studies on the mutual interaction of space exploration and society—part of a larger need to understand the relationships between science, technology, and society. After beginning with a study of public attitudes toward space over time, it then moves on to specific case studies of potential “spinoffs” from NASA’s space program in the areas of medical technology, integrated circuits, and the multibillion-dollar industry today known as MEMS (microelectromechanical systems). These studies explicitly raise the difficult questions of what can be considered spinoff and how much of any particular claimed spinoff can be attributed to NASA. Beyond spinoffs, the final part of the volume considers broader issues of space and society, including the controversy over the use of nuclear components in spacecraft, the relationship between NASA and the environment, the impact of applications satellites, and the impact of the Apollo program. Space exploration has also spawned entirely new disciplines, including astrogeology, astrochemis­try, and even astrotheology. The final chapter explores the budding discipline of astrosociology. Download the e-Book for free at copies can be purchased from the NASA  Headquarters Information Center. Prices, ordering information, and other details are available online at

CoveredBridgesBookCover_smCovered Bridges and the Birth of American Engineering

Edited by HAER Historian Justine Christianson and HAER Architect Christopher H. Marston

Historic American Engineering Record, National Park Service, Washington, DC, 2015
Pp. 234; illustrations, bibliography, index

The Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) announces the publication of Covered Bridges and the Birth of American Engineering (2015), edited by HAER Historian Justine Christianson and HAER Architect Christopher H. Marston. The book represents the culmination of research under the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)–sponsored National Historic Covered Bridge Preservation (NHCBP) Program. HAER and the FHWA’s Office of Infrastructure Research and Development have maintained a joint research and technology program for historic covered bridges since 2002. This book examines the development of wood trusses and covered bridge construction, profiles the pioneering craftsmen and engineers involved, explores the function of trusses in covered bridges, and looks at the preservation and future of these distinctly American bridges. The editors have collaborated with some of the leading historians and engineers of historic covered bridges in the country to produce this volume. Contributors include Jim Barker, Lola Bennett, Joseph Conwill, Dario Gasparini, Matthew Reckard, and Rachel Sangree. Richard O’Connor and Sheila Rimal Duwadi supplied overviews of the HAER and NHCBP programs, and Michael Harrison and David Simmons provided invaluable editorial assistance. Download available:

FRUS-historyToward “Thorough, Accurate, and Reliable”: A History of the Foreign Relations of the United States Series

William B. McAllister, Joshua Botts, Peter Cozzens, Aaron W. Marrs
Wash., DC: U.S. Department of State, Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, 2015
Pp. 330; Appendixes, bibliography, index

This story of the FRUS series offers unexpected drama at every turn, as State Department Historian Stephen Randolph writes in the introduction. FRUS was used at times for public relations, fell behind in production schedules, struggled to gain access to foreign and U.S. security documents, was the focus of intense internal debates on standards and declassification, sacrificed timely production for completeness, and adapted to the post–World War II security state in which additional agencies shared in the formulation of foreign policies. With extensive research and discussion, the authors show the ultimate change of FRUS’s focus from the narrow publication of diplomatic materials to inclusion of those revealing decision making. As production time extended to 15 years and more in the 1920s, the “Contemporaneous FRUS” became unachievable, and the series gained less importance for Congress and more as a vehicle for transparency in government and as a documentary source for scholars and students of U.S. diplomatic history. The complex drama of the series’ evolution includes detailed discussion of several major controversies and crises, and their consequences, including the Versailles volume in the 1930s; the expanding content required from national security agencies like the DoD, CIA, and NSC; the Yalta Conference and Iran volumes; congressional statutes; executive orders on publication schedules and mandatory reviews of documents; the Historical Advisory Committee (HAC) at the State Department and its role; lack of access to the Truman and Eisenhower Library documents; and much more—all deeply affecting the production and integrity of the volumes.

Courage-Persistence--With Courage and Persistence: Eliminating and Securing Weapons of Mass Destruction with the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Programs

By Joseph P. Harahan
Wash., DC: Defense Threat Reduction Agency, U.S. Department of Defense, 2014
Pp. 372; illustrations, maps, bibliography, index

The book traces U.S. efforts under the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program (CTR) to serve as a broker between Russia and the other three nations not only to remove the weapons but to assure arms reduction under the four START Treaties from 2001 to 2010. Harahan delves into the many problems involved: distrust between Russia and Ukraine, deteriorating weapons and systems, declining economies and inability to complete dismantling, and changing national goals. We learn about the immense expense of dismantling launch facilities, missiles, and bases; the need to employ and house Russian nuclear scientists; the cost of constructing new chemical destruction sites; and the challenge of defining baseline and operational standards in reviews with Russian authorities, among others. The book does a good job of detailing the complexity and difficulty of the undertaking. The program’s results: destruction of more than 2,500 nuclear capable missiles, 1,187 missile launchers, 33 submarines, 155 bombers, over 1.6 rounds of chemical munitions, and over 4,129 metric tons of chemical weapons. The book ends, although briefly, with the CTR’s shift today to containing biological weapons and disease in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Africa, and Southeast Asia. With its use of new sources, this study is an invaluable one for future work on disarmament as well as U.S.–Russian relations in the post–Cold War period.

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