Alfred Mahan was born in West Point New York the son of the dean of the faculty at the US Military Academy. After two years at Columbia College, Mahan went to the US Navy Academy. Mahan was a loner and not particularly happy at the Academy, but he went on to finish second in his class.
Mahan had an undistinguished naval career until he published a book in 1883 called The Gulf and Inland Wars. While the book written on the navy in the Civil War, was unremarkable it did bring Mahan to the attention of Captain Stephen Luce, the founder and president of the navy War College. Luce had Mahan transferred to the War College were he flourished. In 1890 he published his course notes under the title; The Influence of Sea Power upon the History. The book copulated Mahan to worldwide fame, and it influenced nations throughout the world. It had a significant influence on US naval planning for decades to come. Mahan retired from the navy and devoted full time to writing about naval history.