Emerging Civil War (ECW) has chosen historian Christopher Kolakowski to serve as the organization’s next chief historian.
Kolakowski, who has been with ECW since May 2013, is the author of several books and, on the ECW blog, of a popular series called “Civil War Echoes.” He also currently serves on ECW’s editorial board and management team. By day, Kolakowski serves as director of the General Douglas MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, Virginia.
“Chris remains a World War II guy by day, overseeing what essentially amounts to a presidential library, considering MacArthur’s role in post-war reconstruction in the Pacific,” explains Chris Mackowski, ECW’s editor in chief, “but Chris remains a Civil War guy at heart. That’s where he cut his teeth, and that’s where he continues to return when the Second World War lets him. Best of all, he sees the clear connections and resonances between the two, which continue to echo on to today.”
As chief historian, Kolakowski will oversee quality control for ECW’s historical content. That means he’ll review book manuscripts for both the award-winning Emerging Civil War Series published by Savas Beatie, and the new “Engaging the Civil War” Series published by Southern Illinois University Press. He’ll also help evaluate guest submissions for the blog.
“It’s important to help people stay connected with the story of the American Civil War, which is why Emerging Civil War’s mission is so important,” Kolakowski said. “We have a great team of historians, so it’s going to be a real pleasure to work with so many exciting people. I love our wide array of voices and ideas, which is ECW’s real strength.”
Another of Kolakowski’s responsibilities will include assisting with ECW’s efforts to develop emerging voices in the field of Civil War public history. “If we’re going to get more young people interested in history, then we need to do all we can to encourage more young historians help tell that history,” he said. “That’s why it’s so important to provide a platform for emerging voices. That’s what’s going to help keep the field fresh and people engaged.”
Kolakowski takes over as chief historian from ECW co-founder Kristopher D. White, who stepped down to take a position as the education manager for the Civil War Trust. White will continue to write for and collaborate with ECW as his duties at the Trust allow.
Kolakowski was born and raised in Fredericksburg, Va. He received his BA in History and Mass Communications from Emory & Henry College, and his MA in Public History from the State University of New York at Albany.
Kolakowski has spent his career interpreting and preserving American military history with the National Park Service, New York State government, the Rensselaer County (NY) Historical Society, the Civil War Preservation Trust, Kentucky State Parks, and the U.S. Army. He has written and spoken on various aspects of military history and leadership from 1775 to the present, and he is widely regarded as one of ECW’s most popular public speakers.
Kolakowski has published two books with the History Press: The Civil War at Perryville: Battling For the Bluegrass (2009) and The Stones River and Tullahoma Campaign: This Army Does Not Retreat (2011). In September 2016, the U.S. Army published his volume on the 1862 Virginia Campaigns as part of its sesquicentennial series on the Civil War. He has also written a study of the 1941-42 Philippine Campaign, Last Stand on Bataan (McFarland, 2016) and is currently at work on a book about the 1944 India-Burma Campaign in World War II.