Arms and the Student

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I agree with the general point of Fred Thompson's defense of teaching military history, and the old Victor Davis Hanson column that he draws on, though I share some of the caveats expressed here. The best reason to teach military history, to my mind, isn't that the Battle of Gettysburg is necessarily more important than half a dozen other topics a student might study, but that it's more interesting, offering an exciting gateway - particularly for boys, whose progress through our educational system leaves a lot to be desired these days - into a subject that can easily become dry as dust. Plenty of people, myself included, have gone on to be interested in the Missouri Compromise, the tariff controversy, and Reconstruction because they first thrilled to accounts of heroism and cowardice, genius and incompetence, at Little Round Top and Marye's Heights and Lookout Mountain. I'm willing to bet the progression rarely happens in the opposite direction.

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Ross Douthat is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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