Thursday, January 5th
“Designing Gotham: West Point Engineers and the Rise of Modern New York, 1817-1898,” by Jon Scott Logel.
Between 1817 and 1898, New York City evolved from a vital Atlantic port of trade to the center of American commerce and culture. With this rapid commercial growth and cultural development, New York came to epitomize a nineteenth-century metropolis. Although this important urban transformation is well documented, the critical role of select Union soldiers turned New York engineers has, until now, remained largely unexplored. In Designing Gotham, Jon Scott Logel examines the fascinating careers of George S. Greene, Egbert L. Viele, John Newton, Henry Warner Slocum, and Fitz John Porter, all of whom studied engineering at West Point, served in the United States Army during the Civil War, and later advanced their civilian careers and status through the creation of Victorian New York.
Dr. Logel is an Associate Professor in War Gaming Department of the Center for Naval Warfare Studies at the United States Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.
Thursday, February 2nd
“Nixon’s Back Channel to Moscow: Confidential Diplomacy and Détente,” by Richard Moss.
Most Americans consider détente to be among the Nixon administration’s most significant foreign policy successes. The diplomatic back channel that national security advisor Henry Kissinger established with Soviet ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin became the most important method of achieving this thaw in the Cold War. Richard A. Moss’s penetrating study documents and analyzes US-Soviet back channels from Nixon’s inauguration through what has widely been heralded as the apex of détente, the May 1972 Moscow Summit. He traces the evolution of confidential-channel diplomacy and examines major flashpoints, including the 1970 crisis over Cienfuegos, Cuba, the Strategic Arms Limitations Talks (SALT), US dealings with China, deescalating tensions in Berlin, and the Vietnam War.
Richard A. Moss is an associate research professor, co-director of the Halsey Bravo research effort, and a faculty affiliate in the Russian Maritime Studies Institute at the United States Naval War College's Center for Naval Warfare Studies.
Thursday, March 9th
“Goat Island and the U.S. Naval Torpedo Station: Guncotton, Smokeless Powder and Torpedoes,” by Richard Simpson.
Weak maritime nations have always sought to augment the strength of their coastal defenses and navies by the use of “diabolical” contrivances for destroying an invader’s ships. The history of the adoption of the torpedo as a recognized implement of warfare is not unlike that of gunpowder or of exploding shells. Each in its turn was met by the cry, “Inhuman, barbarous, unchivalrous.” During the American Civil War, the Confederate Navy employed submerged mines, called torpedoes, and explosive charges mounted on a long pole referred to as the “spar torpedo” which was bumped into the hull of an enemy vessel exploding on contact. These weapons enjoyed great success during the conflict. In July 1869, the Secretary of the Navy announced the establishment of the Naval Torpedo Station on Goat Island in the harbor of Newport, Rhode Island, for development of a more sophisticated and deadlier self-propelled torpedo. From its founding until the end of the Second World War, the Naval Torpedo Station has been the Navy’s principal center for the design of torpedoes. Newport continues as the home of the U.S. Navy’s most important laboratory for research and development of modern weapons’ system.
Richard Simpson is a native Rhode Islander who has always lived within walking distance to Narragansett Bay. After retiring in 1996 from a Federal Civil Service career with the U.S. Navy Supply Center and Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, he began a second career as an author of books on subjects of historical interest in Rhode Island’s East Bay, with his principle focus on Bristol.
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