Research Interests and Background
I specialize in world military history, with a particular focus on the early modern North Atlantic. I have published extensively on warfare in colonial America, among Native Americans, and around the British empire. Exemplary of that interest are three books from 2011: Barbarians and Brothers, Empires and Indigenes, and Warfare and Culture in World History (see my publications page for links). In 2016 I published a survey of world military history, entitled Waging War: Conflict, Culture, and Innovation in World History. I am currently working on the relationship between military logistics and post-conquest governance, comparing systems in agricultural states, the steppe, and in the North American “wilderness.” There is a public lecture version HERE on Youtube. Several relevant pieces from that project have been published in journals or are forthcoming, including The Cutting-Off Way: Indigenous Warfare in Eastern North America, 1500-1800 (in press with UNC, due out in 2023).
During 2015/16 I served as the Harold K. Johnson Visiting Professor at the U.S. Army War College, and then in 2021/22 I was the Colin S. Gray Visiting Professor of Strategic Studies, at the US Air Force’s School for Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS). I continue to engage with the Department of Defense on issues related to military history and policy.
I have had a long “side career” as an archaeologist, and have done fieldwork in Greece, Albania, Virginia, Croatia, Kosovo, and Hungary, and I continue to work and publish in that field (see my 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. From 2004 to 2009 I co-directed a project in the mountains of northern Albania (the Shala Valley Project, SVP), 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) and recently published some of the results of fieldwork there. Since then I have consulted on projects in Croatia and Kosovo, training team leaders, and keeping my hand in the field.
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, a whitewater kayaker, and a traditional archer.
I have a small YouTube channel that I created for demos during Covid https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLu8lnqMo7z6YxbPY5olu-g
And I can be found on Twitter @Milhist_Lee