When this book first appeared in 1972, Karsten, a former naval officer, was taken to task for its portrayal of the Naval Academy and the officer corps. Although his conclusions riled more than a few senior officers, no one denied the significance of the study, and it was named Best Book of the Year by Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honorary society. The work focuses on the period after the Civil War when the United States emerged as a power to be reckoned with and its navy developed into a professional fighting force. This revelatory portrait of the officer corps in the late 19th and early 20th centuries has remained an important reference work for more than thirty-five years. This new edition includes a new preface and foreword.
Peter Karsten is a professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh and the author of many books, including the three-volume Encyclopedia on War and American Society.