Talk:Alfred Thayer Mahan

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Missing from the article is any coverage as to how his ideas came to be known as Mahanism. DFH 15:51, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

A Google search for Mahanism gave about 1,320 hits just now. In some of them, the highlighted word was neo-Mahanism. DFH 15:53, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

On the other Mahan[edit]

Also missing is any reference to Japan, which seems to've adopted his theories more than anybody. The Pacific War obsession with "decisive battle" is right out of Mahan. Trekphiler 12:47, 12 November 2006 (UTC)

With that in mind, I added this:
"His work influenced the doctrines of every major navy in the interwar period. He was translated and extensively read in Japan[1], and the IJN used Influence as a textbook. This strongly influenced IJN conduct of the Pacific War, with emphasis on "decisive battle", even at the expense of trade protection, to such an extent it contributed to Japan's defeat[2][3]."
Hope it's formatted & footnoted correctly... Trekphiler 13:01, 12 November 2006 (UTC)

Fleet In Being[edit]

Article excludes mention of fleet-in-being theory, an immensely influential theory that Mahan is widely credited with creating, although, oddly enough, not on the fleet-in-being wikipedia page.

This page is quite lacking in references to other theories that are relevant, and would be of use to a reader, within the Impact on Naval Thought section. Particularly there is no reference to the French 'jeune ecole' theory which, when considered alongside the omission of a refernce to fleet-in-being theory, misses an opportunity to signpost readers to associated or contradictory naval theories contemporaneous of Mahan's. Mountsorrel wiki (talk) 10:58, 19 February 2016 (UTC)

Wikipedia stuff[edit]

People who swear by Wikipedia like to claim that vandalism especially in articles on important people, is reverted within a few hours. The bit of stupidity I just caught today was added on November 20, 2006: one year ago. If Wikipedia is to be a serious resource, it's going to have to require registration with e-mail under real names; just like pretty much every other bulletin board out there. Normally by the way when I see this kind of crap, I don't bother to fix it; there's a lot of it. I don't know why I decided to fix this one; must be getting gentler in my old age. Bill (talk) 00:51, 27 November 2007 (UTC)

Which is part of why it isn't going to be a serious resource, even your lofty registered users are hardly perfect, infact many administrators are counter-productive, vain, and use the rules generally when it suits them and little if at all when it does not (it is after all a bureaucracy with power concentrated in a small group of people who are little better than people like me with no registered account). It is not a serious Primary Source, it is a decent secondary source that can often give you decent primary sources. Anyways, not the right place for this discussion, right place to discuss how to improve the article. Namely I think linking the list of his works to actual Wikipedia articles and not to Gutenburg, if you want to get the Gutenburg you can probably find them on their respective article's pages. Or in a "Further Reading" section or something. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:50, 26 June 2008 (UTC)

There, hopefully some of those books will get articles eventually and the "Further Reading" will become redundant. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:08, 26 June 2008 (UTC)

Mahan and Teddy Roosevelt[edit]

This article seems to downplay the influence Roosevelt and Mahan had on each other. See Richard W. Turk's book The Ambiguous Relationship. Vasa2 (talk) 22:35, 2 November 2008 (UTC)

Hague Convention[edit]

Where is Mahan's role in the Hague Convention of 1907? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 06:20, 13 February 2009 (UTC)

The line "The only significant result of the conference was the establishment of an ineffective Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague." is seemingly contradictory, subjective and without citation. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:33, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

Branch of Service[edit]

See as Admiral Mahan was a naval officer, not an Army officer, I changed his branch from Union Army to Union Navy.

Rejection of Decisive Battle Hypothesis[edit]

The article suggests that the doctrine of the decisive battle between fleets was rendered obsolete by the development of the carrier and submarine in World War II, citing the Pacific War as an example. Many sources, though, cite the Battle of the Philippine Sea as the decisive battle of the Pacific War; this battle also displays the hallmarks of the Mahanian decisive battle - the fleets of both belligerents were concentrated, and the fighting power of one was effectively destroyed in a single, decisive engagement. -- (talk) 17:34, 7 December 2009 (UTC)

Pronunciation of the Name--Any Clue[edit]

Is it "MAY-han," "MAY-un" or "Ma'n?"

Terry J. Carter (talk) 18:56, 16 December 2011 (UTC)

Or "muh-HANN" or "muh-HAAN?"
--Ryota7906 (talk) 10:12, 21 April 2015 (UTC)

"Flag officer"? - post-retirement only (+ not a personal promotion!)[edit]

It seems odd (to me) to describe an officer who served as Captain as "a United States Navy flag officer" . . it's the British ("Royal") Navy I know anything of (so what I say may not be applicable - this wants checking by someone who knows the USN): in the RN, a Flag Officer is someone of a rank which implies command of more than a single ship (and, therefore, implies that the ship carrying him will be identified within the squadron / fleet / whatever by wearing his flag). So, in the RN, Flag rank is Admiral or above (? or Commodore or above - I think Commodores have always been a rather elusive species anyway).

So even a Captain (D) - ie Captain of a destroyer squadron (back in the day when the RN did have squadrons of destroyers!!) - would not be described as a Flag Officer: his role, commanding a squadron, extends beyond the single ship - but his rank is not a Flag rank.

(According to the article) Mahan never served above the rank of Captain. Presumably it is, strictly, correct to style him Admiral Mahan, because of the 1906 promotion mentioned in the article - but he never served in the rank (and the promotion was not even personal: it was per an Act of Congress applying across-the-board). For both reasons, and going by RN usage as I understand it, I would not describe Mahan as a Flag Officer.

Anyone know more / different / better? Is US practice different? SquisherDa (talk) 04:24, 5 May 2012 (UTC)

agreed. He signed his books and articles As Captain Mahan, never as admiral. Rjensen (talk) 04:43, 5 May 2012 (UTC)
Nice concrete confirmation of the point: thanks! . . can you suggest a citable source? from a biography? - so I can edit the article (to note the contrast between formal references to him as Adml Mahan and equally widespread references to "Capt. Mahan")! SquisherDa (talk) 06:10, 10 May 2012 (UTC)
PS by the way, can you confirm that he continued to sign himself '"Capt"' even after the 1906 promotion (by the Act of Congress)? — Preceding unsigned comment added by SquisherDa (talkcontribs) 06:17, 10 May 2012 (UTC)


Under "Impact on naval thought", shouldn't it be (from coal to oil, from pistons to turbines) rather than (from coal to oil, from boilers to turbines)? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:07, 3 June 2013 (UTC)

Place of Burial[edit]

According to: and (which includes a photo of his grave marker) Mahan is buried in Quogue NY (east end of Long Island) not Batavia NY as on the current (12-24-2013) Wiki page. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:34, 24 December 2013 (UTC)

How could his book be so influential despite a large time and technology gap?[edit]

By 1890 the naval technology of 1660–1783 (and thus reasonably much of the naval tactics of that period) was severely outdated and even state-of-the art ships were rapidly being outdated. This means that Adm Mahan's thought must have been of very general validity (unless people were following him blindly as an authority). It would be interesting to see an analysis of how and why this book could be so influential despite the gap in time and technology. (talk) 16:07, 29 December 2015 (UTC)

he wrote about strategy not technology. read Ronald B. St. John, "European Naval Expansion and Mahan, 1889–1906." Naval War College Review 1971 23(7): 74–83. who argues that key Europeans were already set to expand their navies and that Mahan crystallized their ideas and generate broad support. Rjensen (talk) 19:26, 29 December 2015 (UTC)

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  1. ^ Mark Peattie & David Evans, Kaigun (U.S. Naval Institute Press, 1997) (
  2. ^ Donald Goldstein and Katherine Dillon, The Pearl Harbor Papers (Brassey's, 1993)
  3. ^ Marc Parillo, The Japanese Merchant Marine in WW2 (U.S. Naval Institute Press, 1993)