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Matthew Moten

Author and Ranch-Hand

TO Enterprises

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TO Enterprises

Background Information

Employment History


U.S. Army


Colonel, Professor and Deputy Head

Department of History

Head of the History Department

West Point


Head of the Department of History
U.S. Military Academy




Rice University

Web References (34 Total References)

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Matthew Moten

Matthew Moten, PhD, a colonel in the U.S. Army, teaches history at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, where he first began instructing in the early 1990s, where he is now a professor o..." class="doTipsy" style="vertical-align: bottom; border: 0;" /> People
Matthew Moten Follow
Matthew Moten, PhD, a colonel in the U.S. Army, teaches history at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, where he first began instructing in the early 1990s, where he is now a professor o...

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By Matthew Moten

Matthew Moten is a former head of the history department at West Point and author of Presidents and Their Generals: An American History of Command in War (Harvard University Press, 2014).

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By Matthew Moten

In the preface to his Presidents and Their Generals, retired Army lieutenant colonel Matthew Moten[1] cites a disturbing example of some Americans' ignorance of military history. Shortly after 9/11, a successful businessman asked him why US military commanders were waiting for waffling politicians to make decisions instead of just doing something about the terrorist threat. For a military man like Moten, such an idea was horrifying, but the power of the military has always had wide appeal. In this volume, the author carefully selects cases that reveal nuances of political-military relations in the United States.
With each of the book's three parts, proceeding in chronological order, Moten explores the relationships between various presidents, generals, and other military leaders and advisors.
Moten concludes that "FDR's masterly political schemes present a prima facie argument for civilian control of the military, as the governing presumption of the Constitution is that political leaders alone possess the requisite skill and accountability to the people to make such critical judgments" (202).
"Johnson lamented the limitations of all of his options, but revealed that withdrawal excited his greatest fears: 'Well, they'd impeach a president though [sic] that would run out, wouldn't they?' Johnson admitted, 'I just haven't got the nerve to do it [escalate in Vietnam], and I don't see any other way out of it.' … Johnson might have found answers to such soul searching if he had possessed the self-assurance to take his military advisers into his confidence" (300; bracketed inclusions are Moten's).
In such quotations, Matthew Moten brings his subjects to life and makes the key lessons of their successes and failures relevant for today's leaders and, more broadly, an informed citizenry.
[1] He is a former head of the Department of History at the US Military Academy.

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Matthew Moten, a professor of history at West Point, Between War and Peace explores the endings of fourteen American wars, from the Revolution to the first Gulf War.

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Colonel Matthew Moten, USA

Professor and Deputy Head,
Department of History
United States Military Academy

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