Scholars of civil-military relations sometimes have a bad habit of grounding their debates in the theories of the past instead of revising those theories or developing more appropriate frameworks that could inform our understanding of the recent past and prepare us for the future. In his recent book, Four Guardians: A Principled Agent View of American Civil-Military Relations, however, Jeff Donnithorne attempts to buck that trend.
The heart of this biography is the account of Upton’s career as a military reformer. Here, David Fitzpatrick has succeeded. Too often we are ignorant of the origins and take for granted many aspects of military training, education, doctrine, leadership, and organization. By understanding the hard-experience that gave rise to these foundational aspects of the military profession, there is still plenty of opportunity to continue Upton’s work in improving it.