While the concept of development is subject to a range of interpretations, in this context it means positive, continuously improving, and sustained change across a variety of human social conditions. Clearly such an effort was at the heart of the Port Royal Experiment. While the term "nation-building" may seem misplaced given that no "nation" was the beneficiary of these efforts, the requirement to build institutions critical to nation-building operations was certainly a large part of the Port Royal Experiment and offers many lessons for modern efforts at nation building.
The Port Royal Experiment divides into ten chapters, each of which is designed to treat a particular aspect of the experience. Topics include planning considerations, philanthropic society activity, civil society, economic development, political development, and resistance. Each chapter presents the case study in the context of more recent developmental and nation-building efforts in such places as Bosnia, Somalia, Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan and incorporates recent scholarship in the field. Modern readers will see that the challenges that faced the Port Royal Experiment remain relevant, even as their solutions remain elusive.
The Peninsula Campaign lends itself to such a study. Lessons for those studying the art of war are many. On water, the first ironclads forever changed naval warfare. At the strategic level, McClellan's inability to grasp Lincoln's grand objective becomes evident. At the operational level, Robert E. Lee's difficulty in synchronizing his attacks deepens the mystique of how he achieved so much with so little. At the tactical level, the Confederate use of terrain to trade space for time allows for a classic study in tactics.
Moreover, the campaign is full of lessons about the personal dimension of war. McClellan's overcaution, Lee's audacity, and Jackson's personal exhaustion all provide valuable insights for today's commanders and for Civil War enthusiasts still debating this tremendous struggle. Historic photos and detailed battle maps make this study an invaluable resource for those touring the many battlegrounds from Young's Mill and Yorktown through Fair Oaks to the final throes of the Seven Days' Battles.