Skip to main content

30% Off New Releases: Explore the List

Harvard University Press - home
Preparing for War

Preparing for War

The Emergence of the Modern U.S. Army, 1815–1917

J. P. Clark

ISBN 9780674545731

Publication date: 01/02/2017

Request exam copy

The U.S. Army has always regarded preparing for war as its peacetime role, but how it fulfilled that duty has changed dramatically over time. J. P. Clark traces the evolution of the Army between the War of 1812 and World War I, showing how differing personal experiences of war and peace among successive generations of professional soldiers left their mark upon the Army and its ways.

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 fortifications 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. Preparing for War concludes by demonstrating how these new notions set the conditions for many of the successes—and some of the failures—of General Pershing’s American Expeditionary Forces.

Praise

  • Magnificent…Clark shows us how history ought to be written—not only illuminating the past but providing a useful way to think about the future…The implication of Preparing for War is that although the Army—or any organization—can learn from past generational conflicts, there are limits to what it can do about those of the future.

    Mackubin Thomas Owens, National Review

Author

  • A former member of the history faculty at West Point, J. P. Clark is an active duty army officer who has served as a strategic advisor to senior civilian and military officials in the Pentagon and British Ministry of Defence.

Book Details

  • 352 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

Recommendations