‘What men will fight for seems to be worth looking into’
Historians have long studied warfare, albeit within a selective framework that includes dates, places, and the description of tactics. Moreover, explanations of ‘why’ and ‘how’ conflicts occur seldom deviate from the political or the long term strategic outlook. It is only recently that we have come to qualify the effect war has on combatants and civilians alike, and how actions and choices in war can also be explained by the stresses to which participants are exposed. Studies such as Jonathon Shay's Achilles in Vietnam and Lawrence Tritle's From Melos to My Lai in part demonstrably link such psychological trauma with the destructive and savage actions undertaken by soldiers in the conflicts of every epoch. It seems reasonable, therefore, that our growing understanding of combat psychology in the twentieth century A.D. may help us unravel problematic events in history, or at least provide a new way to approach old questions.