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Military historian John Elting has penned an interesting volume here, painting a picture of what it was like to serve in American and United States army units from colonial times to the present day. It is not military history in the strictest sense-there are no battles chronicled here, no hair-raising adventures against Indian or Briton, Chinese or North Korean. What this book does is paint a picture of what it was like to be a soldier in the ranks, or an officer, or even a camp follower, the the wars in which Americans have fought. The colonial and Revolutionary War period are covered completely, with interesting anecdotes on where Americans served, especially during the French and Indian War. One interesting fact brought out was that the 'British' regiments that served in North America enlisted so many Americans that half their strength was American. Each chapter is followed by a plausible vignette pertinent to the period, bringing out interesting facts about the units and the men who formed them. Continental Army regiments at the end of the war in the south were proficient and professional, though small. The Mexican spy company that fought for the Americans in Mexico in 1847 was proficient, expert, and had prices on their heads if caught by the Mexicans. American soldiers were for years treated as second-class citizens by their fellow citizens, the 'dogs and soldiers keep off the grass' of Kipling fame was more than true. The US Army that fought the Indian Wars set up and ran the National Park system before handing it over to the Department of the Interior as a going concern, and, more often than not, helped the Indians by policing the plains and keeping land-hungry settlers at bay and out of Indian lands. All in all this is a must-have volume for the serious student of the US Army. This is an excellent adjunct for the definitive work on the subject by Russell Weigley, The History of the United States Army. Where the latter is dry and fact-filled, this volume adds color, realism, and the human element. The author, a soldier for over thirty years and an associate professor at West Point for eleven, met and knew some of the men of the older, tougher horse soldier army, and this volume reflects that knowledge and the respect due the troopers who patrolled the endless plains and deserts that eventually became the United States.