Michael Eliot Howard
29 November 1922
|Died||30 November 2019(aged 97)|
|Alma mater||Christ Church, Oxford|
|Known for||Expanding military history beyond the traditional campaign and battle accounts by examining the sociological significance of war|
|Title||Regius Professor of Modern History|
|Partner||Mark Anthony James (Civil Partnership: 2006–2019)|
|Years of service||1942–1945|
|Battles/wars||Second World War|
Sir Michael Eliot Howard(29 November 1922 – 30 November 2019) was an English military historian, formerly Chichele Professor of the History of War, Honorary Fellow of All Souls College, Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Oxford, Robert A. Lovett Professor of Military and Naval History at Yale University, and founder of the Department of War Studies, King's College London. In 1958, he co-founded the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Howard was described in the Financial Times as "Britain's greatest living historian". The Guardian described him as "Britain's foremost expert on conflict".
Howard was born on 29 November 1922 in the village of Ashmore in Dorset. He was the youngest son of Geoffrey Howard and Edith (née Edinger). He was educated at Wellington College and Christ Church, Oxford. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in 1946, which was later promoted to Master of Arts (MA) in 1948.
Howard joined the British Army and was commissioned as a second lieutenant into the Coldstream Guards on 4 December 1942. He was given the service number 253901. He fought in the Italian Campaign, serving with the 3rd Battalion, Coldstream Guards, and came ashore during the landings at Salerno in September 1943. On 27 January 1944, during the First Battle of Monte Cassino, he was awarded the Military Cross (MC) "in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Italy".
After Oxford, Howard began his teaching career at King's College London, where he created the Department of War Studies. From his position at King's he was one of Britain's most influential figures in developing strategic studies as a discipline that brought together government, military, and academia to think about defence and national security more broadly and deeply than had been done before.
He was one of the founders of the International Institute for Strategic Studies. From his family, education, and service in the Guards, he had extensive connections at the higher levels of British society, and he worked them astutely to further his intellectual goals. He had close connections in the Labour Party but was also consulted as an advisor by Margaret Thatcher.
Howard was best known for expanding military history beyond the traditional campaigns and battles accounts to include wider discussions about the sociological significance of war. In his account of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71, Howard looked at how the Prussian and French armies reflected the social structure of the two nations. He was also a leading interpreter of the writings of the Prussian military thinker Carl von Clausewitz, including preparing a translation of On War with the American historian Peter Paret.
In addition, in both his inaugural and concluding lectures as Regius Professor, and in his popular and influential War in European History, Howard stressed the difference between traditional military history, which seeks to identify easily applicable lessons for the present from the history of past wars and military campaigns, and his own approach, which stresses the uniqueness of the historical past and the impossibility of deriving such lessons to guide modern strategic and tactical choices.
In 1985, he delivered the Huizinga Lecture in the Dutch city of Leiden, under the title: 1945: End of an Era. Howard helped found the Department of War Studies and the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives at King's College London. He was president emeritus of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, which he also helped to establish, and a fellow of the British Academy.
Howard was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1977 Birthday Honours and a Knight Bachelor in the 1986 Birthday Honours. He was later appointed to the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH) for services to military studies in the 2002 Birthday Honours and to the Order of Merit (OM) in 2005. In 1988 he was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of War Sciences. In 1992, he was awarded the Samuel Eliot Morison Prize for lifetime achievement given by the Society for Military History.
|Booknotes interview with Howard on The First World War, 16 March 2003, C-SPAN|
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