Book Review: America's School for War: Fort Leavenworth, Officer Education, and Victory in World War II


by Peter J. Schifferle

Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2017. 308. . $29.95 paper. ISBN: 9780700625277

Educating America’s Generals

Originally published nearly a decade ago, and now available in paper back, in America's School for War, Prof. Schifflerle (Command and General Staff College) examines how, despite the tight budgets of the interwar period, the Army’s conscious decision to ensure that officers received the best possible education for higher command paid off on the battlefields of World War II.

Schifflerle argues that the Army’s use of the “application method”, the use of numerous practical exercises in a wide variety of situations, trained officers in problem solving, while helping them develop confidence in their ability to resolve tactical and operational problems. He notes that criticisms by students, often expressed in various military journals, helped refine the educational program, so, for example, the idea of the “school solution” – the idea that there was a the single “best” approach to resolving a problem – yielded to the acceptance of more creative approaches to developing and evaluating plans.

To the reader better understand Schifflerle’s thesis, he several times injects anecdotes drawn from events in World War II, and in his conclusions notes that the educational program was responsible for the success that the remarkably small number of interwar regular officers had managing the mobilization and operations of the enormous wartime forces, an achievement which even impressed some senior enemy officers.

A volume in the University of Kansas series “Modern War Studies”, America’s School for War is an important read for anyone with an interest in American operations in World War II and the professional education of officers.


Note: America’s School for War is also available in hard cover.

StrategyPage reviews are shared with The New York Military Affairs Symposium


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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