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Edward Mead Earle and the unfinished Makers of Modern Strategy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)781-814
Number of pages34
Issue number3
Accepted/In press2016
Published1 Jul 2016

King's Authors


The American historian Edward Mead Earle has until recently escaped the attention of Historians of War, despite that his edited volume of 1943, Makers of Modern Strategy: Military Thought from Machiavelli to Hitler, was a seminal work in the field, widely read by military historians in the decades following its publication. Whilst recent scholarship has sought to situate Earle as a key figure in the pre-Second World War development of American security studies, this article, focusing on the development and compilation of Makers of Modern Strategy and subsequent plans for a revised second edition, emphasizes Earle’s role as a historian compiling a volume which was distinctly historical in approach, tone, and scope. Divided into two parts, part one explores the manner in which Makers was devised. Focusing on composition, contributors, and the relationship between the volume and Earle’s seminar at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, it argues that in producing Makers, Earle was attempting to assemble a tome which could be used as a historical lens through which to better understand the demands of the total war then being pursued. Part two demonstrates how difficulties in sustaining the Makers project emerged as Earle’s thoughts turned towards a prospective second edition of the volume. Driven by his commitment to achieving a balance between long and short historical focus he sought to revise those chapters most explicitly rooted in contemporary concerns and developments which he knew would not stand the test of time. Yet with his plans never coming to fruition, Earle’s Makers remained an unfinished work.

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