Research Interests and Background
I specialize in early modern military history, with a particular focus on colonial America, Native Americans, and the British empire. In 2011 I published three books: Barbarians and Brothers, Empires and Indigenes, and Warfare and Culture in World History (see my publications page for links). I continue to work on issues of war and sovereignty in the English/British relationship with local peoples in Ireland and North America. I am also working on the role of military logistics in post-conquest governance, comparing systems in agricultural states, the steppe, and the North American “wilderness.” In 2016 I published a survey of world military history, entitled: Waging War: Conflict, Culture, and Innovation in World History. During 2015/16 I served as the Harold K. Johnson Visiting Professor at the U.S. Army War College.
I have had a long “side career” as an archaeologist, and have done fieldwork in Greece, Albania, Virginia, Croatia, and Hungary, and I continue to work and publish in that field (see Archaeology page). Although often tangential to my primary work as a military historian, I have benefited greatly from the experience. I have learned much from my anthropologist colleagues and from the close study of landscapes. Some links to the projects I’ve worked on are provided below. Most recently I co-directed a project in the mountains of northern Albania (the Shala Valley Project, SVP), now published as Light and Shadow (see publications page), winner of the 2014 Society for American Archaeology scholarly book of the year. The historical component of that project examined how the tribal peoples of the northern Albanian mountains maintained their autonomy from the Ottoman empire while also providing them with some military service. In the winter of 2008 my co-director and I snowshoed into the valley (otherwise cut off during the winter) to experience how the villagers manage during the long cold season; you can read more about that trip here. In summer 2011 I joined a new project in the Mani, in the southern Peloponnese, in Greece (the Diros Project); fieldwork there is ongoing involving both survey and excavation.
I was a combat engineer officer in the U.S. Army and served in Germany (patrolling the old Cold War border), Virginia, and in the Gulf War. When not working or teaching I am a blacksmith and a whitewater kayaker.