Robert Mackey

Robert Mackey, formerly assistant professor of history at the United States Military Academy, is a consultant at the National Counterterrorism Center in Washington, D.C., and writes extensively on military history.

Recent Articles

Why They Fought

An army is a grand exercise in group loyalty and cooperation. Understanding what holds it together provides lessons beyond the military.

Heroes and Cowards: The Social Face of War by Dora L. Costa and Matthew E. Kahn, Princeton University Press, 315 pages, $27.95 The American Civil War has long been a staple of the publishing industry. Hundreds of books come out each year, ranging from yet another biography of Robert E. Lee to "drums and bugles" hard-core military histories of specific battles and campaigns. Very few break new ground or bring to light any new discoveries, and even fewer have any relevance beyond the four years of fratricidal homicide. Dora L. Costa and Matthew E. Kahn's Heroes and Cowards is a rarity -- a book about the Civil War on its surface but with application well outside the conflict. Literary classics such as The Red Badge of Courage and a number of modern historical studies -- notably the works on the common soldier by Bell Wiley and James McPherson -- have attempted to grapple with the question of why some soldiers fight and die, while others run away. This is the core question in Heroes and...