John W. Hall is an associate professor and the inaugural holder of the Ambrose-Hesseltine Chair in U.S. Military History at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He served fifteen years as an active-duty infantry officer in the U.S. Army and is a former faculty member of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. His research focuses on early American warfare with a particular emphasis on intercultural conflict and cooperation between European and Native American societies during the eras of the American Revolution and the early republic. He is the author of Uncommon Defense: Indian Allies in the Black Hawk War (2009) and numerous essays on early American warfare. His current book project, "Dishonorable Duty: The U.S. Army and the Removal of the Southeastern Indians," examines how Andrew Jackson's administration used military force to transform a contested borderland into part of a factious national domain. Within the field of military history, his research has focused on "small wars" involving irregular forces and U.S. defense policy.
On June 6, 1944, American and British forces landed on five beaches in Normandy, each with its own code name. Yet in the United States, only one is widely remembered—Omaha—and it is the only beach where almost nothing went according to plan. In this 40-minute talk, Professor Hall explores the reasons why a narrowly-averted disaster has become one of the most iconic American battles in all of American history and how it continues to influence the ways in which Americans and others perceive the United States' role in the world.