Message from the Director Geoffrey Wawro:
Welcome to the Military History Center at the University of North
Texas. Our goal is to build one of the premier military history
programs in the world. We are hiring great military historians,
who teach and write well. We will use this center to pull together
our own faculty and our advisory fellows -- heavyweights like Niall
Ferguson, Holger Herwig, and Jeremy Black -- and to attract speakers
and conferences like our hugely successful Alfred Hurley Military
History Seminar, which has been an annual event in North Texas for
twenty-five years. Speakers have included Michael Howard, Martin
Blumenson, Dennis Showalter, David Glantz, Carlo D'Este, Allan Millett,
and Gerhard Weinberg. At the UNT Military History Center we are
introducing a PhD. in military history. Here we study, analyze and
discuss the history and future of warfare in every era and culture.
Join us in North Texas, or right here on the web.
Dr. Alex Mendoza received his Ph.D. from Texas Tech University. He is the author of Chickamauga, 1863: Rebel Breakthrough (2013) and Confederate Struggle for Command: General James Longstreet and the First Corps in the West (2008), which was a History Book Club and Military Book Club selection. Mendoza is the co-editor for, Texans at War: A New Military History of the Lone Star State (2012) an anthology studying the military history of Texas through the prism of race, gender, and manliness, among other topics. In addition, he has contributed articles on the Civil War, War and Memory, Texas History, and the History of Mexican Americans for various magazines, journals, and anthologies. Mendoza is currently working on a study examining the history of Tejanos in the American military. His current research interests include War and Society, Race and Warfare, and War and Memory.
EIGHT QUESTIONS FOR DR. ALEX MENDOZA
How did you get interested in Military History?
It goes all the way back to childhood. While some of my friends gravitated towards Spider-Man, Batman, and Superman comic books, I favored the Military comic books like Sgt. Rock, G.I. Combat, and The Unknown Soldier. I thus tried to figure out if any of the plot lines in those comic books were true. I did not know it at the time, but that was a perfect recipe for military history. I may have used encyclopedias back then, but eventually it became magazines and then, later, books. Voila. Military History.
What interests you most about being a professional military historian?
I am most interested in the concept of learning about various wars and how people react to those conflicts. I started exploring the Civil War, but am now focused in on examining the impact of Mexican Americans in Texas and the wars of the twentieth century. I am amazed I have the opportunity to learn about various different subjects and my research is well received and met with a keen critical eye.
What place does Military History have in academia?
Military history is essential to academia. A while back I read a brief essay on the embattled future of military history by John A. Lynn, a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Like him, I remain optimistic.
How do you integrate Military History in your curriculum?
Besides teaching the specialized classes on military history, I integrate military history in my survey classes by looking at the various conflicts in each section of U.S. history in a separate setting, be it the causes and effects, or the impact a particular had on American society. In other words, I believe you can't learn about the nation's past without learning about its various wars and the role of the military.
What are your current and future projects?
Currently, I am working on a book length manuscript exploring the role of Mexican Texans (Tejanos) in American military conflicts, from the Texas Revolution to the Vietnam War era. The manuscript focuses on the changing notions of patriotism of Texans of Mexican descent in American wars from the nineteenth to the twentieth century. The study examines the motivations of 19th century Tejanos to participate in the wars of the 19th century and compares these concepts to the conflicts that marked the 20th century.
What was the hardest aspect of writing your most recent book?
This past spring (March 2013), Praeger Press published Chickamauga 1863: Rebel Breakthrough, a study on the two-day battle in northern Georgia that proved to be the Confederacy's foremost victory in the West. People may find this hard to believe, but the hardest part of writing a book on the campaign was keeping it within the parameters of the maximum word count. The first draft submission had it approximately 20,000 words over the prescribed limit. When I submitted it to the press they asked for extensive revisions. I realize people might not think that cutting out material is hard, but for me it was a very difficult process to edit that much out of the manuscript. In the end, I was pleased with the book, but I still wish I could have had those additional pages.
Any advice to students aspiring to be military historians?
My advice is simple: stick to what you are passionate about at that particular time. If it is a popular subject, so be it. If it is not, more power to you. One cannot really move forward without that passion.
If you could have any career in the world, what would it be and why?
I am good where I'm at. I am always learning and always creating. I doubt that can be replicated in many other careers.