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Master Syllabus

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Administrative Unit: History and Political Science Department
Course Prefix and Number: MAMS 502
Course Title: Great Leaders in U.S. Military History
Number of:
Credit Hours 3
Lecture Hours 3
Lab Hours 0
Catalog Description:

Analysis of great military leaders in U.S. history. The course focuses on aspects of strategic thinking and decision making common to key individuals, who made lasting contributions to military affairs. Students compare and contrast general characteristics of leadership at all levels and choose a historical figure to study in depth. Special emphasis is placed on investigating the autobiographical and biographical literature on military leaders and in developing and applying criteria for "greatness." Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

Prerequisite(s) / Corequisite(s):

Graduate standing.

Text(s): Most current editions of the following:

Choose at least 4 of the recommended texts below. Additional biographies or autobiographies may be assigned as appropriate.

A Handbook of American Military History
By Sweeney, Jerry K. ed. (University of Nebraska Press)
The Fourth Star: Four Generals and the Epic Struggle for the Future of the United States
By Cloud, David & David Jaffe (Crown (2009))
LeMay: The Life and Wars of General Curtis LeMay
By Kozak, Warren (Regnery (2009))
American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur, 1880-1964
By Manchester, William (Reprint, Little Brown (2008))
War As I Knew It, introduction by Rick Atkinson
By Patton, George S. (Houghton Mifflin (1995))
Lejeune: A Marine's Life, 1867-1942
By Bartlett, Merrill (Naval Institute Press (1996))
Crazy Horse and Custer: The Parallel Lives of Two American Warriors
By Ambrose, Stephen (Knopf (1996))
A Woman of Valor: Clara Barton and the Civil War
By Oates, Stephen B. (Free Press (1995))
Training Ground: Grant, Lee, Sherman, and Davis in the Mexican War, 1846-1848
By Dugard, Martin (Little Brown (2008))
Old Hickory's War: Andrew Jackson and the Quest for Empire
By Heidler, David S. and Jeanne T. Heidler (Louisiana State University Press (2003))
General George Washington: A Military Life
By Lengel, Edward G. (Random House (2007))
John Paul Jones: Sailor, Hero, Father of the American Navy
By Thomas, Evan (Simon & Schuster (2004))
War on the Run: The Epic Story of Robert Rogers and the Conquest of America's First Frontier
By Ross, John F. (Random House (2009))
Course Objectives
  • To trace the development of great military leaders in the United States.
  • To explain adaptive leadership models in the context of U.S. military history.
  • To search for a usable past relevant to strategic thinking and to decision making in military affairs.
Measurable Learning
  • Identify historical figures responsible for shaping the armed forces of the U.S. military.
  • Analyze lasting contributions of key individuals in U.S. military history.
  • Describe adaptive leadership models and practices common to military affairs in the past.
  • Explain aspects of strategic thinking and decision making important to wartime and peacetime operations.
  • Design a research paper to establish criteria for "greatness" in U.S. military history.
  • Compose a research paper to evaluate the "greatness" of an individual military leader in U.S. history.
Topical Outline:

Instructors should introduce participants to various tools - practical and theoretical - that historians have used to analyze great leaders in the U.S. military. The process must include writing a CMS paper of at least 8,000 words in length on the "greatness" of an appropriate figure. Topics for the course should include but not be limited to the following:

  • Introduction and historical overview
  • Identification of "greatness" indices
  • Leadership models and practices
  • Strategic thinkers in war and peace
  • Evaluating high command in context
  • Evaluating small unit leadership in context
  • The uses (and abuses) of history in decision making
  • The anatomy of failure in battle
  • Transformational figures

Recommended maximum class size for this course: 20

Library Resources:

Online databases are available at the Columbia College Stafford Library.  You may access them using your CougarTrack login and password when prompted.

Prepared by: Brad Lookingbill Date: February 23, 2010
NOTE: The intention of this master course syllabus is to provide an outline of the contents of this course, as specified by the faculty of Columbia College, regardless of who teaches the course, when it is taught, or where it is taught. Faculty members teaching this course for Columbia College are expected to facilitate learning pursuant to the course objectives and cover the subjects listed in the topical outline. However, instructors are also encouraged to cover additional topics of interest so long as those topics are relevant to the course's subject. The master syllabus is, therefore, prescriptive in nature but also allows for a diversity of individual approaches to course material.

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