Mahan: The Life and Work of Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan, U.S.N.

Mahan: The Life and Work of Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan, U.S.N.

Mahan: The Life and Work of Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan, U.S.N.

Mahan: The Life and Work of Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan, U.S.N.

Excerpt

The purpose of this biography is to depict Alfred Thayer Mahan, as a boy and a man, as a naval officer and a writer, as the exponent of sea power and the apostle of expansion; to show how heredity and environment combined to shape his talent and to reveal the full extent of his own influence on history. An Englishman, Carlisle Taylor, wrote the first biography of Mahan, to record his appreciation of the service Mahan had rendered to the British people. My book is undertaken in the conviction that there is room for another account of Mahan which will demonstrate that his message was primarily intended for the American people and that his thesis is as vital to the United States today as it was to Great Britain when it was written almost a half century ago.

In reconstructing Mahan's personality I have depended primarily on his letters to members of his immediate family and go his intimate and lifelong friend, Captain Samuel A'Court Ashe, of North Carolina, who died during the preparation of this book. In addition, conversations with his sister, Miss Jane Leigh Mahan; his brother-in-law, Mr. Hartman K. Evans; his daughters, Miss Helen E. Mahan and Miss Ellen K. Mahan; and his son, Mr. Lyle E. Mahan, have helped form the picture of him as his family saw him. The side he turned to the world was always masked by his extreme reserve, but can be traced in some of his letters to Admiral Luce, the Honorable John D. Long, Theodore Roosevelt, Mr. John M. Brown, his editor, and Dr. J. F. Jameson, a colleague in the American History Association, among his American friends; and to Vice Admiral Bouverie Clark, Colonel Sydenham Clarke, Colonel Sterling, Professor James R. Thursfield, Professor John Knox Laughton, Mr. Leo Maxse, and Lord de Saumarez, among his English friends.

His books and essays furnish the best evidence of his . . .

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