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Alfred Thayer Mahan : The Man and His Letters (Reprint) (Paperback) (II Robert Seager)
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Alfred Thayer Mahan was born in 1840 at West Point, New York. His father, Dennis Hart Mahan, Professor of Engineering at the U.S. Military Academy, was the Army’s premier authority on field fortifications and infantry tactics. In 1856 Alfred entered the U.S. Naval Academy and in 1859 graduated second in his class. He fought in the Civil War and served in various peacetime billets ashore and afloat until 1896, when he retired in the rank of captain. In 1906 he was promoted to rear admiral on the Retired List. This biography goes far beyond a consideration of Mahan as the world-famous historian, diplomatist, and strategist. Thanks to family papers made available to the author by the admiral’s grandson, it also contains an intimate portrait of Mahan the swain, husband, and father, together with revealing insights into his personality, character, religious beliefs, professional frustrations, social aspirations, and financial difficulties. His daughter remembered this aloof, complicated, and contentious man as “The Cat That Walked By Himself.” America remembers him as its “Philosopher of Sea Power,” the prescient genius who pulled the nation and the Navy with him as he strode into the twentieth century.
This book, in the words of its author, is “the portrait—warts and all—of a historian, strategist, tactician, philosopher, Episcopalian, theologian, diplomat, imperialist, mercantilist, capitalist, Anglophile, patriot, Republican, racist, Social Darwinist, journalist, polemicist, naval reformer, adviser to presidents and legislators, teacher, academic administrator, social climber, egoist, introvert, swain, husband, and father. Mahan remains one of the few military figures in American history whose brain power was his main shield and buckler. He read good books and wrote better ones. He was an intellectual in uniform, and his busy pen was mightier than his sheathed sword.”