On My Nightstand: Preparing for War by J.P. Clark

I picked up Preparing for War: The Emergence of the Modern U.S. Army, 1815-1917, by J.P. Clark, a few weeks ago and added it to my reading rotation.

The inside jacket cover was particularly appealing.

The author, an active duty Army officer and former faculty at the United States Military Academy, “traces the evolution of the Army between the War of 1812 and World War I. . . .” But this was the part that hooked me:

Nineteenth-century officers believed that generalship and battlefield command were more a matter of innate ability than anything institutions could teach. They saw no benefit in conceptual preparation beyond mastering technical skills like engineering and gunnery. Thus, preparations for war were largely confined to maintaining equipment and fortification and instilling discipline in the enlisted ranks through parade ground drill. By World War I, however, Progressive Era concepts of professionalism had infiltrated the Army. Younger officers took for granted that war’s complexity required them to be trained to think and act alike—a notion that would have offended earlier generations.

Does that sound cool or what???

I’m a little over ninety pages in so far, and it is fascinating. This “industrialization” of American though on command, mobilization, organization, and training promises to be a fascinating insight on this aspect of the evolution of military society, and the broader society in which it exists. I’m hopeful that this will add to how best to understand the proper evolution of military law. So far, this book does not disappoint.

Check it out, share your thoughts, and pass along recommendations!

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