Dr. Williamson Murray once declared a want to develop his Expeditionary Warfare School (EWS) seminar students into hand grenades. His comments were, of course, figurative, but Murray communicated a vision: his company grade students would read more deeply, think more critically, write with greater effect, and ultimately be more willing to challenge conventional wisdom than their peers. Murray, with EWS, engineered the course, from initial selection through the final seminars, to meet his goal of a competent, well-armed officer prepared to make and recommend just decisions grounded in history.
EWS’s choice to couple selection for Murray’s seminar with an essay was positive. This requirement eliminated students whose only ambition was to circumvent the argumentative research paper. Moreover the selection process divorced students with a firm writing background from those likely to have struggled. The amalgamation of pupils fostered a milieu which ...view middle of the document...
Murray’s pupils, both in seminar and out, can surely assert to have reflected on their craft to the fullest.
Murray’s scheduling of the seminar and determination of class locations was logical. Although the majority of the students reside in the greater Quantico area the transformation that occurs when one departs Geiger Hall is noteworthy. Murray created an environment of laissez-faire but professional debate by opening his quarters to the students. However this atmosphere did not directly translate to the Warrior Room of Geiger Hall. The Warrior Room’s glass doors and pub-like décor was distracting and not conducive to dialogue. The Director’s Conference Room may be a more appropriate setting for future classes.
Students in Murray’s seminar read and reviewed twelve books over a six month period, a feat likely not mirrored by the general student body. But the greatest challenge to Murray’s students was to achieve such an exploit while succeeding in the EWS base curriculum. This author averaged four hours of daily reading outside of exercise preparation and participation. However a Murray student’s ability to transpose the lessons gleaned from the seminar into the base course created a more robust experience for the entire student body. Moreover, the ability to forego two book reviews was advantageous and exercised by all students. Finally, EWS’s determination to waive the requirement for an argumentative research paper was suitable. A Murray student had sufficient time to read, write, participate in the EWS curriculum, and reflect on his craft. Levying an additional and substantial requirement, such as the argumentative research paper, would likely imbalance a student already operating at an advanced level.
Dr. Murray’s elective was the highlight of this author’s EWS experience. This seminar was unique and edifying throughout, while brilliantly complementing the existing structure of EWS. This author has relished every session and established relationships with the brightest students in the class all while challenging one of the 21st Century’s most prominent historians. Dr. Murray’s Military History Literature Review enjoys my highest recommendation and is best suited for the most talented students in forthcoming classes.