Carved from Granite
West Point since 1902
Military History - Education - College Histories
6 x 9, 544 pp.
26 b&w photos. 49 charts. Bib. Index.
Pub Date: 03/15/2012
Williams-Ford Texas A&M University Military History Series
  cloth
Price:        $40.00

978-1-60344-771-3
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Carved from Granite

West Point since 1902

 Lance Betros

The United States Military Academy at West Point is one of America’s oldest and most revered institutions. Founded in 1802, its first and only mission is to prepare young men—and, since 1976, young women—to be leaders of character for service as commissioned officers in the United States Army. West Point’s success in accomplishing that mission has secured its reputation as the foremost leadership-development institution in the world. An Academy promotional poster says it this way: “At West Point, much of the history we teach was made by people we taught.”

Carved from Granite is the story of how West Point goes about producing military leaders of character. An opening chapter on the Academy’s nineteenth-century history provides context for the topic of each subsequent chapter. As scholar and Academy graduate Lance Betros shows, West Point’s early history is interesting and colorful, but its history since then is far more relevant to the issues—and problems—that face the Academy today.

Drawing from oral histories, archival sources, and his own experiences as a cadet and, later, a faculty member, Betros describes and assesses how well West Point has accomplished its mission. And, while West Point is an impressive institution in many ways, Betros does not hesitate to expose problems and challenge long-held assumptions. In a concluding chapter that is both subjective and interpretive, the author offers his prescriptions for improving the institution, focusing particularly on the areas of governance, admissions, and intercollegiate athletics. Photographs, tables, charts, and other graphics aid the clarity of the discussion and lend visual and historical interest.

Carved from Granite: West Point since 1902 is the most authoritative history of the modern United States Military Academy written to date. There will be lively debate over some of the observations made in this book, but if they are followed, the author asserts that the Academy will emerge stronger and better able to accomplish its vital mission in the new century and beyond.

LANCE BETROS, professor and head of the history department at the United States Military Academy at West Point, graduated from the Academy in 1977. Serving as a colonel in the United States Army, he is also the editor of the Academy’s bicentennial publication, West Point: Two Centuries and Beyond, published in 2004.

What Readers Are Saying:

"Carved from Granite is a very fine meditation not only on the modern history of the U.S. Military Academy, but also on the value of character and intellect in successful leaders. For any reader intrigued by West Point's role in American history over the past century, this is the book to read."--Rick Atkinson, author of The Long Gray Line and An Army at Dawn


“Betros has crafted an impressive study of the second century of the academy. Deeply researched, the book surveys the evolution of the institutions as it grappled with the forces of change that the 20th century forced on its curriculum and leadership. Betros is not shy in his criticism of his employer and has deep concerns about the impact of athletics on the academic integrity of the school. Betros’s work certainly compares favorably. An excellent history of one of the US’s most venerable military institutions.”—E. A. Goedeken, Choice

"The author, himself a 1977 graduate of the Academy, praises the institution but also points out flaws that may impede its future success."--Al Hemingway, Military Heritage

“Betros has crafted an impressive study of the second century of the academy. Deeply researched, Betros is not shy in his criticism of his employer and has deep concerns about the impact of athletics on the academic integrity. The book is an excellent history of one of the US’s most venerable military institutions.”—E.A. Goedeken, Choice

"Carved from Granite is truly an insider's look at the institutional history of the USMA. The organization of Carved from Granite provides an in-depth history of the USMA and a detailed analysis of its core programs. While Carved from Granite is directed at the larger West Point community, its appeal should extend to all educational institutions, as it calls for setting priorities so that the focus of academic leaders is on students' intellectual and moral developments."--Colonel (Ret.) James M. Johnson, The Hudson River Valley Review

“Betros deserves kudos for confronting the problems that he perceives are hindering West Point’s full potential. The result is a tour de force – an outstanding example of historical research, interpretation, and fair-minded analysis. Betros’s brilliantly researched analysis demonstrates conclusively that change, not continuity, best describes the history of West Point since the centennial. 'These problems, most evident in the areas of governance, admissions, and intercollegiate athletics, have blurred the Academy's focus on character and intellect as the key developmental goals.'”—Cole C. Kingseed, COL (USA Retired), Parameters

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