JoAnna M. McDonald

JoAnna M. McDonald, Ph.D., is a historian, writer, and public speaker. She grew up a stone’s throw from the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania and was blessed with two mentors associated with this institution: Dr. Richard Sommers and Dr. Jay Luvaas, author and former Professor of Military History, at the institute. Sommers and McDonald had a thirty-eight year friendship, and he was influential in all her publications. Luvaas had a transformative effect on her education. While a student at Dickinson College in Carlisle, he was a guest instructor and kindly made a special dispensation that allowed her, as a freshman, to take his upper level military history course. Several years later, while earning her Masters’ in History at Shippensburg University, Luvaas invited her to take classes with him at the U.S. Army War College. He showed her how to examine military history through a strategic lens, and he introduced her to the lessons-learned methodology. Many years later, she applied those same academic skills at Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland, where she earned a Ph.D. in History with a focus in strategic studies and strategic leadership.

She has worked for Federal and State governments, as well as defense and television industries.  Currently, she is employed in a temporary government position. Other experiences include working as a: military historian for the History Channel’s acclaimed documentaries, Vietnam in HD and World War II in HD; civilian Marine Education Director with the U.S. Marine Corps; test procedure manager for General Atomics Aeronautical Systems—Predator program; civilian Army Archivist at the Military History Institute, Army Heritage and Education Center, Carlisle, PA; and, Research Historian for the State of Pennsylvania, where she shared the history of the 390 PA Civil War flags.

Author of eleven books on the Civil War and WWII, as well as numerous journal and newsletter articles regarding U.S. Marine Corps history, JoAnna’s next book is R. E. Lee’s Grand Strategy & Strategic Leadership: Caught in a Paradoxical Paradigm (Savas Beatie, 2020).

Selection of Publications:


“Bull Fisher: A Marine’s Marine,” Leatherneck Magazine, December 2007

“It was on: With a Combat Cameraman in Iraq,” Leatherneck Magazine, 2006


The Liberation of Pointe Du Hoc: The 2d Rangers at Normandy, June 6-8, 1944

“We Shall Meet Again”: The First Battle of Manassas (Bull Run), July 18-21, 1861

The Faces of D-Day

The World Will Long Remember: A Guide to the Battle of Gettysburg.