By John Nicholas
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When they really know and understand what the Navy has done in time past, they will be able to understand what the Navy may be trusted to do in the future, and will have gone far on the way to understanding the problem of national defence. STAFF HISTORIES BY JULIAN CORBETT OF late years there has been a large output of work from the Historical Sections of Naval and Military Staffs, which has wrought a revolution in the study of war history. No historian whose task has brought him in touch with this work can fail to appreciate its value, nor in the care and thoroughness of its methods can we fail to recognise a complete change in the attitude of the Services to history.
While emphatically repudiating any suggestion that the province of historians is merely to collect and marshal facts for officers to deal with, it is equally necessary to insist upon the line beyond which historians should not venture in drawing conclusions, and this line can be drawn very distinctly. It lies between historical conclusions, which depend upon the balance of historical evidence and disciplined historical judgment, and technical conclusions, which are arrived at by applying historical conclusions to the solution of modern technical problems.
It was published monthly during the war, and extends to 40 sixmonthly volumes 8vo, badly printed on bad paper. , by William James, 5 vols. 8vo, 1822-4. I n writing this, James had access to much written and personal evidence of the most direct kind, and the result was a work of extraordinary merit, within its limits. It avoids, with marked purpose, anything relating to national history, strategy or the bearing of events, which the author was, apparently, unable to understand. It is conceited, dogmatic and prejudiced to an extreme degree, so as to deprive its judgments of all title to respect ; but it was described by an 1 Letters of Lord Barham, ii.