Robert H. Berlin is the executive director of the Society for Military History. He lives in Prescott, Arizona, and has been a member since 1968 (with interruption).
Twitter handle: @rhberlin
Alma maters: BA, Rockford College (now Rockford University), 1968; PhD, University of California, Santa Barbara, 1976
Fields of interest: military, especially Allied leadership in the Normandy Campaign; US environmental; American historiography
When did you first develop an interest in history? First developed an interest in history in elementary school primarily due to love of reading and the Landmark Books including Guadalcanal Diary by Richard Tregaskis and Thirty Seconds over Tokyo by Ted W. Lawson, both firsthand accounts.
What projects are you currently working on? Currently working on directing the over 2,700 member Society for Military History, established in 1933 devoted to stimulating and advancing the study of military history through publication of the society’s quarterly publication, the Journal of Military History, and its annual meeting held in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, in 2016 hosted by the Canadian War Museum and the Canadian Museum of History and the 2017 meeting in Jacksonville, Florida, hosted by the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience at Florida State University.
Have your interests evolved since graduation? If so, how? Superb history professors at Rockford College encouraged me to continue study. I chose UCSB for both its history faculty and location. Both were inspiring! My dissertation adviser—whose first publication was in Military Affairs, the predecessor to the current Journal—was open to my dissertation research on a military history subject as well as to my teaching military history and encouraged my working for the federal government. I am professor emeritus at the US Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Is there an article, book, movie, blog etc. that you could recommend to fellow AHA members? Recent books I recommend include the Society for Military History US book award winner Braddock’s Defeat: The Battle of the Monongahela and the Road to Revolution by David Preston; the prizewinning three-volume Liberation Trilogy about the US Army in North Africa, Sicily, and Europe in World War II by Rick Atkinson, the George C. Marshall lecturer at the 2016 AHA meeting; and the 2017 Marshall lecturer Craig Symonds’ Neptune: The Allied Invasion of Europe and the D-Day Landings. A laugh out loud read is Bill Bryson’s most recent book The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain (he also was inspired by the Landmark books). The tweets of the AHA’s Emily Swafford and Jim Grossman are always informative.
What do you value most about the history profession? The history profession has given me the opportunity to profess at a community college, undergraduate institutions, and graduate schools in diverse locations ranging from Lompoc, California, to Oxford, England. It enables me to travel the world lecturing on cruise ships and to talk about D-Day and Operation Overlord at Omaha Beach. I value that the gift of enthusiasm and interest can be passed to others.
Why have you continued to be a member of the AHA? I support the AHA due to its current broad focus on the profession, its affiliated societies, and demonstrating in many ways and venues the value of history. Indeed “Everything has a history.”
Do you have a favorite AHA annual meeting anecdote you would like to share? As a grad student I met a well known military historian watching a Pittsburgh Steelers game on television and we have been friends ever since.
Other than history, what are you passionate about? Passionate about my children, grandson, travel, and combining them!
AHA members are involved in all fields of history, with wide-ranging specializations, interests, and areas of employment. To recognize our talented and eclectic membership, AHA Today features a regular AHA Member Spotlight series.