Alfred Thayer Mahan

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Mahan, Alfred Thayer


Born Sept. 27, 1840, in West Point, N. Y.; died Dec. 1, 1914, in Washington, D. C. American naval theorist and historian; rear admiral (1906).

Mahan graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1859 and fought in the Civil War of 1861–65 on the side of the North. He was president of the Naval War College in Newport, R. I., from 1886 to 1888 and from 1892 to 1893. He commanded a cruiser from 1893 to 1895 and retired in 1896. He served as a member of the Naval War Board in the Spanish-American War of 1898 and as a member of the American delegation to the first Hague Conference of 1899.

Mahan was the author of many works that contain an abundance of factual material to substantiate the lawlike regularity of wars and justify the aggressive wars of the USA. At the same time as the British theorist P. H. Colomb, he created and substantiated what was called the theory of sea power, in which the navy is considered the chief branch of the armed forces and is assigned the decisive role in any war. According to Mahan, to secure the command of the sea is the fundamental law of war and the only mission, which, when accomplished, will ensure victory over the enemy and world domination. Mahan’s theory, which reflected the political conception of the imperialist bourgeoisie, had a great influence on the development of the naval thinking of the USA and other imperialist states.


Vliianie morskoi sily na istoriiu 1660–1783. Moscow-Leningrad, 1941. (Translated from English.)
Vliianie morskoi sily na frantsuzskuiu revoliutsiiu i imperiiu (1793–1812), vols. 1–2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1940.
Sea Power in Its Relations to the War of 1812, vols. 1–2. London, 1905.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Alfred Thayer Mahan, The Interest of America in Sea Power, Present and Future (London: Sampson Low, Marston, 1897).
In spite of nearly four dozen writers, there are a few on whom the author particularly focuses, and two of them--the Prussian Helmuth von Moltke the elder and the American Alfred Thayer Mahan, who together constitute roughly 20 percent of the text--may be used to illustrate the mode of treatment.
Turk, The Ambiguous Relationship: Theodore Roosevelt and Alfred Thayer Mahan (New York: Greenwood, 1987).
Alfred Thayer Mahan was a Naval War College instructor in the 1880s and 1890s.
As with Jomini and Alfred Thayer Mahan, some--as this reviewer has done--will point to shortcomings with the arguments.
Alfred Thayer Mahan, Armaments and Arbitration, 1912
Ranging widely over historical examples from many parts of the world and several centuries, Vego shows that littoral warfare has actually been more the rule than the exception in recent times--a fact that has been obscured by the dominance in classical naval strategic thinking of strongly "blue water'-oriented theorists, such as Alfred Thayer Mahan.
Alfred Thayer Mahan wrote prolifically in the late 19th-early 20th century about the importance of sea power in history and its geopolitical implications for the global balance of power.
1) Alfred Thayer Mahan, Mahan on Naval Strategy: Selections from the Writings of Rear Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan, ed.
Wu states that the late Alfred Thayer Mahan, the American maritime strategist, has influenced Chinese thinking but not to the point where the Chinese navy is ready to adopt a "far-oceans strategy" or a "dominance of the oceans" doctrine.
Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan became formidable upon the 1980 publication of his The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1783.
John Maurer is Alfred Thayer Mahan Professor of Sea Power and Grand Strategy at the Naval War College.