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

A bit further along in Preparing for War: The Emergence of the Modern U.S. Army, 1815-1917, by J.P. Clark. I’m always looking to steal some time to get in a little reading every day, but it is a continual struggle–particularly after long days of reading at my day job.

Clark has done an excellent job so far of leading me through the army culture’s evolution as it responded to its experience, as well as its parent society.

Take this excerpt, for example, as Clark discusses the late 1800s:

But underneath political deadlock, society was undergoing a profound change from traditional personalized customs to new impersonal systems. That was, in broad terms, the difference between the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era. Naturally, such a momentous transition was neither instantaneous nor absolute. The broad trend, however, manifested itself in different ways across all aspects of society: in government, the patronage of party machines slowly yielded to an impartial bureaucracy manned by civil servants; in the private sector, unregulated free practitioners were subsumed by national credentialing associations for professions such as law and medicine; in the army, individual autonomy would be slowly subordinated to a general staff dictating a centrally determined notion of professionalism.

Beyond the clear and vivid, well-researched writing, I am particularly intrigued by Clark’s thesis.

Though still working through the details of my thesis, I believe a similar argument can be made about the evolution of military justice, both within the parent society and the law that governs its people.

Reading books like Clark’s, and other well researched and written articles, help refine the questions to be asked and hypotheses to test, even though they might not directly reference military justice. My intent is to share and celebrate these works on this blog . . . and to take good notes . . .

One thought on “On My Nightstand: More on Preparing for War by J.P. Clark

  1. Glad that you found the book interesting. For what it is worth, I suspect that you are correct that similar trends were seen in military law. There was quite a bit of thinking about both the Articles of War and military punishment more broadly. The founding of the US Dentionary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth was inspired by civilian prison reform. Best of luck with your own studies!

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