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A Scientific Way of WarA Scientific Way of War

Antebellum Military Science, West Point, and the Origins of American Military Thought

Ian Clarence Hope,676272.aspx

Narrated by Capt. Kevin F. Spalding USNR-Ret

Available from Audible

Book published by University of Nebraska Press

While faith in the Enlightenment was waning elsewhere by 1850, at the United States Military Academy at West Point and in the minds of academy graduates serving throughout the country Enlightenment thinking persisted, asserting that war was governable by a grand theory accessible through the study of military science. Officers of the regular army and instructors at the military academy and their political superiors all believed strongly in the possibility of acquiring a perfect knowledge of war through the proper curriculum.

A Scientific Way of War analyzes how the doctrine of military science evolved from teaching specific Napoleonic applications to embracing subjects that were useful for war in North America. Drawing from a wide array of materials, Ian C. Hope refutes earlier charges of a lack of professionalization in the antebellum American army and an overreliance on the teachings of Swiss military theorist Antoine de Jomini. Instead, Hope shows that inculcation in West Point’s American military curriculum eventually came to provide the army with an officer corps that shared a common doctrine and common skill in military problem solving. The proliferation of military science ensured that on the eve of the Civil War there existed a distinctly American, and scientific, way of war.

Ian Clarence Hope is currently on the faculty of the NATO Defense College in Rome. He is the author of Dancing with the Dushman: Command Imperatives for the Counter-Insurgency Fight in Afghanistan and Unity of Command in Afghanistan: A Forsaken Principle of War.


“Highly recommended to any reader interested in the early development of the U.S. army.”

Civil War Books and Authors

“Ian Hope’s keen insights and original interpretations come through clearly in his new book, A Scientific Way of War. His penetrating analyses revolutionize our understanding of American military thinking in the antebellum era. This book is required reading for anyone who would understand generalship and high command in the American Civil War.”

—Richard J. Sommers, senior historian emeritus, U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center, U.S. Army War College

“Truly original.... No other scholar has so successfully explained what Americans understood by the phrase ‘military science’ as taught—and modified over time—at West Point, and how that doctrine related to the nation’s geographic position, quest for internal development, and preparation for and perceptions of war.”

—Peter Maslowski, professor emeritus of history at the University of Nebraska‚ÄìLincoln and author of Looking for a Hero: Joe Ronnie Hooper and the Vietnam War

“A detailed, thoughtful, and provocative explanation of the evolution of the U.S. Army’s understanding of military science and why this scientific view of war was so important in the nation’s military history and to the conduct of the Civil War.”

—Brian McAllister Linn, Ralph R. Thomas Professor in Liberal Arts at Texas A&M University and author of The Echo of Battle: The Army‚Äôs Way of War

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University Press Audiobooks
an imprint of Redwood Audiobooks

University Press Audiobooks