He’s co-authored another on Congress, Congress: Games and Strategies. He’s been published in Naval History, Proceedings, Vietnam, Orbis, The Christian Science Monitor, Small Wars Journal, and others.
Two years ago, I interviewed via email CDR Salamander, Eagle1, Lex, Galrahn, and Steeljaw Scribe for an article that was published in Proceedings, “The Navy Can Handle the Truth: Creative Friction without Conflict.” Phib has called in that chit and asked me to post my top five Navy and/or leadership books that I recommend this Christmas. I’m hoping Eagle1, Lex, et all will give me a pass.
Normally, I’d suggest starting with Thucydides’ The History Of The Peloponnesian War, but it’s usually required reading in one course or another. Still, this is a book that never gets old – literally or figuratively. This should already be on any military officer’s bookshelf and regularly consulted. A natural companion to it might be Barry Straus’ The Battle of Salamis: The Naval Encounter that Saved Greece -- and Western Civilization.
For my top five, in no particular order other than chronological, I’ve opted for big picture books about major periods and conflicts rather than leadership-specific books, since lessons can be derived from any of these.
Empires of the Sea: The Final Battle for the Mediterranean, 1521-1580 by Roger Crowley.
Maritime Supremacy & the Opening of the Western Mind: Naval Campaigns That Shaped the Modern World by Peter Padfield.
Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Founding of the U.S. Navy by Ian Toll.
Toll’s work offers a new depth of understanding of the Navy and the country’s history. In addition to America’s early naval engagements, Toll pays equal attention to the vital but largely ignored congressional debates and political involvement, without which there would not have been a Navy. This book includes the stories of the six ships, whose launchings were sometimes less than spectacular or auspicious; the ship designers and builders (Humphreys, Penrose, and Fox), who were not immune to differences of opinion; and the members of Congress who opposed or funded these projects... His multi-disciplinary analysis of the foundations of the U.S. Navy deftly takes the reader from the Federalist Papers to the halls of Congress to the wharves of Philadelphia; he guides the reader from public opinion debates to woefully underestimated shipbuilding projects (the last being a perennial issue through U.S. history). Toll’s vivid accounts of everyday life, such as the 1793 yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia, which had a ten percent death rate, reminds the reader of the late historian Barbara Tuchman’s prose. The story of the creation of the Navy and its early adventures is already riveting; Toll’s writing style makes it doubly so.Lincoln and His Admirals by Craig L. Symonds.
The Two-Ocean War: A Short History of the United States Navy in the Second World War by Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison.
If you’re still looking for a few others, here are some suggestions:
Christopher McKee’s A Gentlemanly and Honorable Profession: The Creation of the U.S. Naval Officer Corps, 1794-1815.
James Robbins’ Last in Their Class: Custer, Pickett and the Goats of West Point (although not a naval book, the author wrote an accompanying article about the anchormen of the Naval Academy; he has an interesting thesis and tells a great tale).
Arthur Herman’s To Rule the Waves: How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World (P.S.).
Small Boats, Weak States, Dirty Money: Piracy and Maritime Terrorism in the Modern World (Columbia/Hurst) by Martin Murphy should be required reading for all junior officers. I can’t think of a single more comprehensive volume about piracy and maritime terrorism. This is not light reading and Murphy’s research is impeccable. But this work spells out in detail the background of two asymmetric threats.
Geoffrey Till’s Seapower: A Guide for the Twenty-First Century (Cass Series, Naval Policy and History) (2009 edition).