West Point

A Bicentennial History

Theodore J. Crackel

Grant. Pershing. Eisenhower. Schwartzkopf. The United States Military Academy has shaped America's senior military leaders from the sons-and now daughters-of farmers and shopkeepers, laborers and bankers. Now celebrating its two hundredth anniversary, West Point and its legacy continue to support and reflect the nation it serves.

Authored by Theodore Crackel, one of the nation's premier authorities on the academy, West Point: A Bicentennial History celebrates one of America's most prominent establishments. A revision and refinement of the author's earlier Illustrated History of West Point, published more than ten years ago, it provides the most accurate and comprehensive history yet available on the academy. It features new research and new perspectives in every chapter, adds a decade of coverage, and has garnered the West Point Bicentennial Committee's official seal of approval.

“A classic work on the United States Military Academy and its history. . . . By far the best of many books on the institutional and social history of West Point.”


“This excellent study tells of the triumphs and tragedies of the institution and its faculty and cadets. Recommended for all collections and all levels.—”

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Crackel tells how the institution was created to embody the vision of Thomas Jefferson and expands our knowledge of the additional contributions of the Adams administration to its founding. He reveals how the academy developed to meet the needs of American expansion by integrating civil engineering into its early curriculum, then tells how cadets experienced growing sectional tensions as the nation headed toward civil war. Along the way, he explains how the familiar physical presence of West Point evolved, offering new insights on decisions to adopt its classic Tudor-gothic architecture.

In its chronological account of West Point's history, the book traces a number of themes: cadet and faculty life, institutional governance, curriculum development, physical expansion, growing diversity among the cadet corps, and the tensions between the school's superintendents and its academic board, who often had competing visions for the academy and its future. In following the lives of cadets and officers, Crackel also offers a fresh look at the treatment of black cadets in the nineteenth century and a new analysis of their experience in the twentieth, as well as a look at the place of women in the corps since the graduation of the first female in 1980.

To understand West Point is to better understand the country its graduates are sworn to protect and defend. This bicentennial history honors that institution as no other book does and shows how it has endowed the select of America's youth with dedication to its motto: duty, honor, country.

About the Author

Theodore J. Crackel is the Visiting Professor of History at West Point during its bicentennial year (2001-2002) and is Director and Editor of Papers of the War Department, 1784-1800, at East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania. He is also the author of Mr. Jefferson’s Army: Political and Social Reform of the Military Establishment, 1801–1809.

Additional Titles in the Modern War Studies Series