This episode of the New Books in Military History podcast is something of a sea change, so to speak, as we turn our attention to naval policy and strategy. Institutional reform is a well-established topic in studies of the ground and air forces of the United States, ranging from Alexander Hamilton and John C. Calhoun through to Emory Upton and Billy Mitchell. By comparison, with the noted exception of Alfred Thayer Mahan, much less has been written about the growing professionalism and institutional transformation of the United States Navy in the late nineteenth century. Our guest for this episode addresses this gap directly. Scott Mobley
is a former naval officer and University of Wisconsin PhD who has written Progressives in Navy Blue: Maritime Strategy, American Empire, and the Transformation of U.S. Naval Identity, 1873-1898
(Naval Institute Press, 2018). Not only does Scott address many open question about the technological transformation of the Navy, from a wooden hulled, sail and steam powered force into one built around steel armored cruisers, he goes far to put Mahan into his proper context as one of a growing community of intellectuals willing to reassess the mission and global reach of the institution.