SEA CHANGE AT ANNAPOLIS: The United States Naval Academy, 1949-2000

By Wineman, Bradford A. | Military Review, January/February 2008 | Go to article overview

SEA CHANGE AT ANNAPOLIS: The United States Naval Academy, 1949-2000


Wineman, Bradford A., Military Review


SEA CHANGE AT ANNAPOLIS: The United States Naval Academy, 1949-2000, H. Michael Gelfand, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 2006, $34.95.

The key to H. Michael Gelfand's book on the U.S. Naval Academy lies in the double-entendre in the book's title, not in its misleading subtitle. The work is not a history of Annapolis over the past half-century, but rather focuses on just a handful of key social transitions within the Brigade of Midshipman. Gelfand argues that the Academy, while steeped in tradition and convention, has acted as an institution of social progress through its integration of racial minorities, enrollment of women, and elimination of mandatory religious service.

Using a wealth of sources, including several hundred oral histories, this study chronicles the cultural transitions' highs-the successes of recruiting African-American candidates and eliminating mandatory chapel services-and the lows-the awkward integration of female midshipmen. Gelfand also compiles a unique "catch-all" chapter on such facets of Academy culture as the honor code, student pranks, and instances of midshipmen engaging in liberal social protests-all of them tied to the volatile social changes occurring beyond the Academy walls. …

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