Wilson Center Book Required Reading for Top Marines

Jon Sumida's book Inventing Grand Strategy and Teaching Command: The Classic Works of Alfred Thayer Mahan Reconsidered

Apr 14, 2005

Jon Sumida's book Inventing Grand Strategy and Teaching Command: The Classic Works of Alfred Thayer Mahan Reconsidered has been added to the Marine Corps's Professional Reading List (also called the Commandant's Reading List) required for the ranks of colonel and general. In this list of eighteen titles, Sumida's book joins classics like Tolstoy's War and Peace, Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front, Memoirs of W. T. Sherman, and Dwight Eisenhower's Crusade in Europe.

Sumida wrote Inventing Grand Strategy and Teaching Command as a fellow at the Wilson Center in 1995-96. The book was copublished by Woodrow Wilson Center Press and the Johns Hopkins University Press in 1997. The author is an associate professor of history at the University of Maryland currently serving as Major General Matthew C. Horner Chair of Military Theory at the U.S. Marine Corps University. Inventing Grand Strategy and Teaching Command can be ordered from the Johns Hopkins University Press at www.press.jhu.edu/books.

Between 1890 and 1913, Captain Afred Thayer Mahan published a series of books on naval warfare in the age of sail, which won a wide readership and established his reputation as the founder of modern strategic history. According to Inventing Grand Strategy and Teaching Command, Mahan's two principal arguments have been gravely misunderstood. Although Mahan has been viewed as an advocate of national naval supremacy, Sumida shows him asserting that only a multinational naval consortium could defend international trade. And although Mahan has been presented as a strict instructor of strategic principles, Sumida shows him stressing the formation of an officer's judgment and character through the study of history.

"The titles [in the Professional Reading List]" according to the MarineTimes.com website, "are required to be read by all Marines while serving in the grade shown. These titles are specifically focused on warfighting. Leaders are expected to have read all books of those grades junior to the grades they currently hold, and to engage their juniors and peers in frequent discussion of these titles. Our goal is achieving excellence in warfighting based on competence and comradeship." The list can be found at www.mcu.usmc.mil/mcu/reading_list/index_1.htm.

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