American history: World War 2 military history research paper topics

U.S. Navy sailors rescue survivors from the USS West Virginia during the Japanese air raid on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941. (Credit: U.S. Navy)

U.S. Navy sailors rescue survivors from the USS West Virginia during the Japanese air raid on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941. (Credit: U.S. Navy)

December is not only known for its holidays; it has a special place in American history. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the U.S. was drawn into World War 2. If you’re looking for research paper topics for a paper on military history, you might want to explore America’s war in the Pacific.

World War 2 in the Pacific

It all began on December 7, 1941, at 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time. A swarm of Japanese dive bombers descended on the island of Oahu and completed a surprise attack on the military base of Pearl Harbor. The attack devastated most of the Pacific fleet. A total of 2,400 Americans were killed and 1,200 were wounded. Because of the attack, the U.S. was drawn into World War 2.

In a September 30, 2013, article for television station KQED’s blog The Lowdown, titled “Them’s Fighting Words: 70 Years of Presidents Making the Case for War,” Matthew Green presented the words and videos of U.S. presidents declaring a state of war.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, president Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared war on Japan in a speech that included this quote. “A date which will live in infamy […] As commander in chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our full nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.”

After listening to the president’s impassioned speech, both the House and Senate voted overwhelmingly for war against Japan.

Why study military history?

For much of human history, war was viewed as not only a necessary part of life, but as a path to glorious achievements. In a November 26, 2013, article for the Hoover Institution Journal Defining Ideas, titled, “Why Should We Study War?” Bruce Thornton describes how different societies viewed war.

We remember the ancient Greeks for their contributions to culture and their system of democracy. But Thornton reminded readers that they also saw war as a, “[…] non-negotiable necessity and a legitimate ‘instrument of policy,’ given the realities of human nature and its perennial passions and interests.”

Thornton concluded that if war is inevitable, then it makes sense to study it in order to learn what to imitate and what to avoid. Knowledge of the intricacies of war is all the more important in a democracy like ours where we are asked to vote for the leaders who will be making decisions and creating policies about our national security.

Topics in military history

You’ll find hundreds of topics related to U.S. military history on Questia where you can browse through thousands of full-text books and articles. Use the built-in research tools to bookmark, highlight, cite and save your sources for your research paper.

One example of a resource for a paper on World War 2 is the book Pearl Harbor Reexamined: Prologue to the Pacific War by Hilary Conroy and Harry Wray.

Conroy and Wray detailed the complicated political relationship between the U.S. and Japan. What was the tipping point that prompted the Japanese to attack the U.S.? Opinions differ but Conroy and Wray describe the various views along with well thought-out conclusions.

“Inasmuch as most wars are the culmination of a gradually deteriorating crisis situation, it is not appropriate to try to find the turning point between war and peace a few days before the outbreak of the war. In this writer’s opinion, the point of no return on the road to the Pacific War was the formation of the Tripartite (Axis) alliance in the fall of 1940,” they said.

Other resources on military history

There are perhaps millions of resources on military history to be found on the Internet. Here are a few.

History Animated: the site includes a section on World War 2 in the Pacific, complete with animated maps.

ThinkQuest: You’ll find a whole section devoted to the Navajo Code Talkers who were instrumental in passing important messages that could not be deciphered by the Japanese.

HyperWar: Found on the database site, this site has links to resources about the Pacific, the European and the China-Burma-India theatres of operations during World War 2.

Library of Congress American Memory: The military collection includes maps, photos, documents and audio recordings.

Military History Online: This site has detailed descriptions of military events dating back to ancient Rome.

What’s your favorite military history topic? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Read more about the history of military campaigns on Questia.

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