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184CIVIL WAR HISTORY planters' attitudes were based upon personal documents found in manuscript collections. Unfortunately, her search yielded only 55 collections for the 124 families included in her study. In other words, 55 families form the basis for Censer's discussion of genteel Southern culture. Censer's book is a good starting point for those interested in the family life of the antebellum Southern elite and the issue of cultural cohesiveness between Northerners and Southerners. Unfortunately, the conclusions she draws must remain tentative until a more comprehensive study is undertaken. Kathleen Berkeley University of North Carolina The Spirited Years: A History of the Antebellum Naval Academy. By Charles Todorich. (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1984. Pp. xviii, 215. $19.95.) Charles Todorich's is the only twentieth-century history of the United States Naval Academy to focus on the institution's formative years, the period between its establishment by Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft in 1845 and its somewhat chaotic departure for Newport, Rhode Island, on the outbreak of the Civil War. In the time-honored fashion of historians of higher education, Todorich has divided the greater part of his narrative into chapters corresponding to the years in office of the institution's chief administrators, in this case the successive superintendents . Several threads run through the administrative sequence: physical development of facilities; a gradual reshaping of the curriculum into the familiar, quasi-collegiate four-year program; and the slow, enervating battle to gain effective control over student conduct—whether collective misbehavior or serious individual problems, notably alcohol abuse. But the outstanding chapter in the book is the sixth, "Officers and Gentlemen: The Annapolis Ideal." Here Todorich lays aside his chronological and administrative narrative to examine the social origins of the antebellum midshipmen, as well as the roles of Annapolis society and culture, naval tradition, formal religion, moral education, and professional socialization in shaping the academy's graduates. The author's view of this process and its outcomes stands in intentional contrast to Peter Karsten's The Naval Aristocracy (1972), with which work he engages in an extended debate. Todorich is an excellent writer; his narrative moves along interestingly, clearly, and at a brisk pace. Because the author is both a graduate of the academy and a former instructor there, his personal insight on the history of the institution is one of the book's strengths. A measure of the merit of The Spirited Years is that it stimulates additional questions. Tempting as it may be to use the tenures of the successive superintendents as the basis for breaking the academy's history into discrete periods, these superintendents were birds of passage. One suspects that, in the histories of the service academies as in the histories BOOK REVIEWS185 of civilian institutions, the importance of top administrators is overemphasized at the expense of key faculty members. Real vitality comes up from the bottom as often as it flows down from the top. Todorich has good material on some of the long-service professors, notably William A. Chauvenet, who provided the core and the continuity to the academy's scholastic program . This reveiwer would have been happy to see more regarding their philosophies of what an academy education should have been and their roles in shaping the educational enterprise. Likewise, The Spirited Years has a fine, but too brief, section comparing the Naval Academy's education with that offered at pre-Civil War United States colleges (pp. 159-63). Such parallel investigation is sorely needed, as is light on how education at the American service academies related to military education in the principal European countries. Too often historians of Annapolis and West Point have written as though their institutions existed in sanitary isolation from contemporary developments in United States higher education and military education abroad. Histories of educational institutions can leave the reader unsatisfied, often because it is difficult to get at the essential business that has gone on in these establishments. Precisely how were maturing individuals shaped by their encounters with individual teachers and with an institution 's collective identity? It is not enough to say that the students were changed; the historian should seek to discover the means by which that...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 184-185
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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