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Annapolis Autumn: Life, Death, And Literature At The U.S. Naval Academy Hardcover – September 1, 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 274 pages
  • Publisher: The New Press (September 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595580026
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595580023
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,067,096 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–An English teacher at the Naval Academy for almost 20 years, Fleming gives readers a good look at the institution as seen by a civilian on the inside. This liberal man, trying to teach largely conservative students to appreciate lifes gray areas, has had a lot of years to discern and perfect his view of what the academy and its students are about, and he covers all of it in a thoughtful, readable way. He contrasts the structured regimen with the Great Books curriculum at St. Johns College across the street, discusses male bonding and the problems it creates for the acceptance of women middies, describes a few days underwater on a cramped nuclear sub, and talks about USNA admissions policies and their harmful effects. He also reports on some of the superintendents under whom he has worked and contrasts the liberal personality with the conservative, and the meaning of the latter (military) protecting the former (almost everybody else). Not only will teens contemplating attending any service academy be fascinated by this book, but it will also hold interest for anyone contemplating becoming an officer (this includes ROTC) as well as those thinking of teaching, especially English.–Judy McAloon, Potomac Library, Prince William County, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"Fleming keeps company with several of the masters of modern literature."
The Baltimore Sun

"Always literate, often fascinating."
The Village Voice

Customer Reviews

This is a book for people who want to really know what it is like behind the gates.
E. Wootton
One of my friends and classmates, a mechanical engineering professor at the Academy, sugested that I read Bruce Fleming's "Annapolis Autumn."
Jim Tenuto
As one might expect from a man who holds a PhD in English, the prose is well done, very clean and exact, with a great flair for description.
USNA Alum

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By M. Holman on October 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
As a 1996 graduate of the Naval Academy, I stumbled upon a rich introspective experience in the pages of Annapolis Autumn. With the insightful objectivity of one who is both an insider and outsider on The Yard, Fleming paints the institution not only in the usual blacks, whites, blues and golds; but in a varied pallet that reveals volumes about USNA and, ultimately, about those of us who are products of its education. Whether the reader is affiliated with the Academy or not, he or she will find a fascinating portrait of an institution devoted (not necessarily in this order) to the most demanding standards of higher learning and to the service of a necessarily single-minded, self-assured, mission-oriented organization like the U.S. Navy.

Through a series of comparisons--Athens vs. Sparta, Classical vs. Romantic, St. John's College vs. USNA--Fleming seems to search for equilibrium. In this search, he treats the reader with many intriguing observations, such as the equally noble but ultimately irreconcilable goals of St. John's College to "...free men and women from the tyrannies of unexamined opinions and inherited prejudices," and those of USNA to "...imbue (midshipmen) with the highest ideals of duty, honor and loyalty." Ultimately, however, his analysis of USNA does not force a conclusion or a solution on the reader. Instead, it makes us think, which appears to have been Fleming's constant two-decades' challenge as a professor. Annapolis Autumn shows us that literature, at the Naval Academy and elsewhere, is not simply a harmless "bull major" endeavor to throw the pale cast of thought over decidedly noble enterprises, but rather a means to help us understand who we are, what we serve, and what it's all about.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By USNA Alum on October 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I am a graduate of USNA and this book is the best I've read yet on life at USNA. Dr. Fleming catches subtleties of the midshipman life that I suspect escaped even some of my fellow alumni. As one might expect from a man who holds a PhD in English, the prose is well done, very clean and exact, with a great flair for description. If anyone asks me what they should read to learn more about life at the 'Boat School' this will the be the first title out of my mouth.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Jim Tenuto VINE VOICE on October 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In a few weeks I will be returning to the Naval Academy for my 30th Reunion. One of my friends and classmates, a mechanical engineering professor at the Academy, sugested that I read Bruce Fleming's "Annapolis Autumn."

Fleming is a contemporary of mine, 50ish. While I sat in the student desks of Sampson Hall, where he now teaches, he was attending classes at Haverford. After 20+ years of laboring in the halls of academia as it it practised at a service academy, he has some things to say.

I only hope that people listen.

The book is nearly schizophrenic. Some of Fleming's observations are pungently witty, acerbic insights into the hot house world of the Naval Academy. I laughed out loud. At other times I found myself closing the book, taking a deep breath, and forcing myself to think and confront his more serious thoughts.

Part III of the book is quite serious. In that section Fleming grapples with the Classical versus Romatic philosophical views of the Academy, as well as a disturbing introduction into the admissions policy. He relates, over the course of several chapters, a chilling episode where is asked by the academic dean to withdraw an opinion piece that he had submitted to the Washington Post in defense of a Supreme Court ruling that determined race should not be a factor in college admissions. As a tenured professor Fleming enjoyed a measure of legal, moral and ethical protection. But the unspoken threat becomes more powerful that a palpable one.

This is a book I would recommend without hestitation to anyone who has attended Annapolis or is considering attending. It goes without saying that those who are currently students would find the book enlightening.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By E. Wootton on September 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover
As a reviewer for the Baltimore Sun wrote, Mr. Fleming has a unique vantage point from which to view the Naval Academy. He has been on the inside for 20 years, at the same time--as a civilian professor--he will always be an outsider looking in. Much like de Toqueville who was able to provide extraodinary insight into what makes America 'America' because of being an outsider on the inside, Mr. Fleming is also able to peal back the layers of USNA to reveal a complicated reality. As a USNA alumnus and veteran of Mr. Fleming's classes, I can attest to how true many of his comments ring. This is a book for people who want to really know what it is like behind the gates.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Mid on September 29, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Finally, a book about the Naval Academy which replaces the hype with the truth. The book is especially interesting to read as a midshipman, but will be enjoyed by all. As I read through Fleming's book I realized that although he is not, and never has been a midshipman, he knows just as much about being a midshipman as midshipmen do. By working so closely with midshipmen for almost twenty years he has gained more experiences and knowledge from the Academy than a mid could in four years. All that Fleming writes of in Annapolis Autumn is candidly very true. In fact, although we all call our bed sheet a blue magnet, none of us understand why. I was surprised to find out how the bed sheet earned its name while reading Fleming's book. I find myself laughing every few minutes as I read each chapter. Laughing at the truth of it all.

A Reef Points of Reality, Annapolis Autumn is a must read for anyone interested in or associated with the United States Naval Academy.

-Current Midshipman
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