"Monday Musings” are designed to get quick, insightful thoughts based around three questions from those interested in strategy, from the most experienced and lauded, to our newest thinkers/writers.
1. Who had the greatest impact on you intellectually (whether through writing, mentorship, etc.)?
I was blessed with outstanding mentors in graduate school. Sally Hadden at Florida State taught me how to be a professional historian. At the university of North Carolina, Wayne Lee and Richard Kohn passed on their passion for military history, and it is largely because of them that I see how multifaceted the study of human conflict can be. Wayne Lee's insights into the way conflict shapes culture (and vice-versa) helped me see that the study of military history actually permeates every society. Richard Kohn has shaped my interest in civil-military relations immensely.
2. What book (fiction, history, or academic) do you think best explains strategy?
Lincoln and His Admirals by Craig Symonds, while not explicitly about strategy, is a great example of a leader evolving in his sense of how to utilize his resources to achieve desired ends. 1812: The Navy's War by George Daughan goes into great detail about how the United States, then a much weaker power, developed a naval strategy to neutralize its disadvantages vis-à-vis the Royal Navy and achieve an impact wildly disproportionate to its size. The results were decidedly mixed in this instance, but it's still a great resource for analyzing how smaller nations take on larger ones. In a time when the United States is now the "Goliath," it's well worth thinking about.
3. What do you want your legacy to be?
I hope I can consistently convey how deeply I love this nation and how much I hope to see it continue to live up to its ideals and act as a force for global stability and order, but also for freedom and human flourishing. If I can contribute in some small way to that mission and encourage others to do the same, I'll be satisfied.
Thomas Sheppard holds a doctorate in military history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research focuses on civil-military relations and naval policy in the early American republic. Currently, Thomas works for Naval History and Heritage Command. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Navy, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.
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