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K-State Today

May 24, 2021

Marsha Frey, Mark Parillo retire from history department

Submitted by Melissa Janulis

The history department recognizes professors Marsha Frey for her 48 years of service and Mark Parillo for his 29 years of service to the department. Frey and Parillo will retire from Kansas State University at the end of the spring 2021 semester. 

Frey joined the faculty in 1973 and specializes in the history of early modern Europe, with expertise in European diplomacy. Parillo joined the faculty in 1992 and specializes in U.S. military history, with particular expertise in warfare in the industrial age with a special focus on World War II. From 2004-2009, Parillo served as the director for the College of Arts and Sciences’ Institute for Military History and 20th Century Studies. 

In collaboration with her sister Linda Frey, who is a professor of history at the University of Montana, Frey co-authored 14 books and more than 100 scholarly articles and chapters. Their works have been translated into Spanish, French, German, Dutch and Hungarian. Writing in the American Historical Review, historian John Mears praised their first book, "A Question of Empire: Leopold I and the War of the Spanish Succession, 1701-1705" (1983) for offering a "revealing perspective on the inescapable problems involved in waging coalition warfare." In 2000, they published "The History of Diplomatic Immunity." Writing in the Journal of World History, historian Hal Friedman celebrated that monograph, winner of the Phi Alpha Theta outstanding book award, as "a superb history of European international law." The Freys continue to produce into the present, with Palgrave-MacMillan publishing their most recent book, "The Culture of French Revolutionary Diplomacy: In the Face of Europe in 2018."

In addition to her accomplishments as a scholar, Frey has been a pillar of the teaching mission of the history department during her nearly half-century on the faculty. Her tireless efforts in teaching the introductory survey to Western Civilization from ancient times to the early modern era inspired generations of students to enroll in her popular upper-division classes on such topics as the French Revolution and European diplomacy. Her expertise contributed to the military history and international relations emphases of the department's graduate programs. Indeed, her many years of service vetting graduate student applications helped shape its very character to the present day.

During his career, Parillo published an array of books, articles and essays on various aspects of World War II. His first book, "The Japanese Merchant Marine in World War II" (1992), argued that the Japanese failure in World War II is explained by the historical traditions and legacies of samurai values that permeated Japanese society due to its very rapid industrialization. In particular, these values undermined logistical systems that were the foundation of Imperial Japan's war effort. Eminent military historian Ronald Specter praised the book as "an important and needed new perspective on the war with Japan." Alvin Coox, another celebrated military historian, commended the study for how its attention to the Japanese merchant marine "deepens our comprehension of the unsung maritime war." He was also the editor of "'We Were the Big One': Experiences of the World War II Generation" (2002). That volume earned praise from John G. McManus, writing in the Journal of Military History, as a "fine volume" that "succeeds in capturing the spirit and flavor of the World War II experience for Americans, both civilian and military."

Parillo's retirement is a tremendous loss for our students. He has been the longtime instructor of the history department's freshman seminar that prepares incoming students for the challenges of majoring in history. He taught several popular upper-division courses that attract students from across the university, including those on World War II and women in sport. His teaching and mentorship of graduate students have been a staple of the graduate program's military history emphasis, and he has supervised dissertations covering a wide variety of topics in all aspects of U.S. military history.