Academic journal article Military Review

Educating the U.S. Army: Arthur L. Wagner and Reform, 1875-1905

Academic journal article Military Review

Educating the U.S. Army: Arthur L. Wagner and Reform, 1875-1905

Article excerpt

EDUCATING THE U.S. ARMY: Arthur L. Wagner and Reform, 1875-1905, T.R. Brereton, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 2000, 297 pages, $45.00.

Arthur L. Wagner, one of the principal architects of the U.S. Army during the 20th Century, graduated a lackluster fortieth out of 43 in the West Point class of 1875. Only later did he emerge as the Army's leading intellectual force.

With other progressives of the time, Wagner was dedicated to professionalism and reform. His forward-looking thinking helped guide the Army through a period of rapid, tumultuous change. But, first and foremost, Wagner was an educator who advocated an integrated, progressive system of Army schools. He also was instrumental in elevating the Leavenworth school from a "kindergarten" to a college. T.R. Brereton paints a bleak picture of the Leavenworth curriculum before Wagner's arrival, illustrating effectively the content and methodology that turned the school around. Wagner's key to instruction was the "applicatory method," which today would be called the "practical exercise."

Wagner, who had a gift for effective writing, wrote two textbooks that guided officer education for 20 years. He succeeded in describing not only "what" but also "why. …

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