A State by State Guide to Fighting on American Soil
Christopher Kelly and Stuart Laycock
History Invasions Press, Seattle, 2017, 414 pages
Book Review published on: March 15, 2019
Part travel guide and part historical review, America Invaded chronicles the fighting that took place in each U.S. state (and the District of Columbia) throughout America’s history. After a brief introduction, each state gets its own chapter, presented alphabetically. Authors Christopher Kelly and Stuart Laycock use today’s state boundaries to determine which chapter an item belongs. The structure of each state’s chapter is the same throughout the book.
Each chapter begins with three to eight pages of text. These pages chronologically describe the conflicts that took place in each state. In some cases, the text ranges back to fighting that took place in pre-Columbian times. Fighting that took place between Native Americans and European colonists is discussed in many chapters. Large and small battles from the American Revolution and American Civil War appropriately take up large parts of the chapters where those wars were waged. In some chapters, twenty-first-century events are discussed.
Each chapter then offers a list of ten or so different historical places in the state, giving the address of the location and its website. These include battlefields, forts, and museums. Unfortunately, no other information is given about these locations, so unless the spots were mentioned in the text, the historical context of some of the sites is not always apparent. Finally, each chapter also includes a highway map of the state with significant historical locations indicated thereupon. The maps are presented in full color along with a handful of photographs from the state.
The authors are fairly loose with what they have included in the book. Of course, it includes battles, attacks, and armed uprisings, but it also includes items such as the 1961 crash of a Cold War bomber and the 2015 murder of Navy recruiters by a gunman guided by “foreign terrorist propaganda” (the FBI’s words, not the authors). Other tangentially related items are discussed as well; battleships that were present at the bombing of Pearl Harbor are often mentioned in their namesake state’s chapter.
The book is well-written, and the authors uncover many interesting bits of American history that are not well-known while adequately covering the expected topics as well. The amount of coverage devoted to different events is not consistent; some are discussed over several paragraphs, while others only receive a line or two. This is of necessity, though—a single volume could never hold all of the rich history that has taken place in America.
I recommend America Invaded to anyone with an interest in American military history. It’s an enjoyable and stimulating read. With each chapter being self-contained, it’s a great book to pick up when one has a small slice of time to read, and it will definitely spark plans of a road trip through the state (or country).
Book Review written by: Joseph S. Curtis, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas