What Are They Reading: Vol 3

what are they reading

Charles C. Chadbourn, III
Editor, International Journal of Naval History

This is the third issue of our continuing series allowing readers of this journal who are interested in international naval history and related topics to share with colleagues ideas on good books to read which may be of general interest. We are not looking for full book reviews in this section, but rather simply suggestions for worthwhile reading. Most selections, of course, will probably come from historical monographs and will be naval in nature, but other genres are welcome as well. Look at the books suggested below by Jocko Willink and Tom Linn as good examples..

Nor do these suggestions necessarily have to be recently published items, although of course those are especially helpful. As the writings of Alfred Thayer Mahan, Sir Julian Corbett, Carl von Clausewitz, and even Thucydides demonstrate, older works often retain their usefulness for contemporary readers for generations. If you would like to share a book suggestion, please send your submission directly to the Editor of IJNH. Some of the more interesting books I read every year come from the recommendations of my colleagues.

Click the down arrow next to each name to read their response.

What Are They Reading? Vol. 3

A Reading Specialist in Children's Literature

Jocko Willink, WAY OF THE WARRIOR KID: FROM WIMPY TO WARRIOR THE NAVY SEAL WAY (2018)

Written for middle school aged kids by a #1 New York Times bestselling author and highly decorated former U.S. Navy SEAL, with hilarious, comic-style illustrations by Jon Bozak, this compelling book describes how Marc turned his life around after a miserable 5th grade year when his super-cool uncle, a retired Navy SEAL, came to spend the summer.  Publishers Weekly and Children’s Literature both highly recommend this book.  And if you like it there are others in the series.

Charles C. Chadbourn, III; Editor, International Journal of Naval History

Thomas C. Linn, THINK AND WRITE FOR YOUR LIFE – OR BE REPLACED BY A ROBOT  (2017)

This delightful little book will make you chuckle, and most likely turn you into a better writer, even if you did complete your dissertation.  You will want to keep a copy handy at all times, right beside your dog-eared Turabian.  The author, a Fleet Professor for the U.S. Naval War College, is a professional writer with decades of experience in military writing circles.  He points out how critical thinking and good writing distinguish someone in the age of artificial intelligence, and make them employable.  Linn knows whereof he speaks.

John W. Kramer, Distinguished Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, University of Mary Washington

Anne Applebaum, IRON CURTAIN: THE CRUSHING OF EASTERN EUROPE, 1944-1956 (2012)

Highly recommended, this extremely well researched and annotated book received the 2013 Cundill Prize for Historical Literature.  Applebaum covers the Communist takeover and consolidation of power throughout Eastern Europe following World War II under Stalin and his successors. The story is sad for those who suffered so much, but the book makes for good reading on how the Soviets exercised control over Eastern Europe.

Nathan Packard, Assistant Professor of Military History, Marine Corps Command and Staff College

J.F.C. Fuller, THE GENERALSHIP OF ULYSSES S. GRANT (1929)

In The Generalship of Ulysses S. Grant, one of the foremost military analysts of the 20th Century offered a thought-provoking reassessment of Grant’s abilities as a strategist and operational artist. In contrast to accounts of the war that presented Grant as unimaginative and profligate with the lives of his men, Fuller argued that Grant time and again displayed perational, strategic, and political abilities that were far superior to those of his contemporaries, to include Robert E. Lee. As evidence, Fuller provided detailed accounts of Grant’s campaigns to show that creativity and maneuver on a grand scale, rather than attrition, were the defining features of Grant’s generalship.

John A. Rodgaard, CAPT, USN, Ret., Naval Order of the United States and co-author of A Hard Fought Ship: The Story of HMS VENOMOUS.

C.S. Forester, THE GOOD SHEPHERD (1955)

I was so aware of Forester’s Hornblower series, but not the single fictional account of a U.S. Navy Convoy Commander that this book tells. It is an excellent read. Forester’s account rings true to someone like myself who “hunted” Soviet Submarines during the Cold War.  Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks supposedly will be releasing a movie based on the book called Greyhound and the main character in the book is made for Tom Hanks. Read the book before the movie premiers in March 2019.

Corbin Williamson, Assistant Professor, Department of Strategy, Air War College

Andrew Boyd, THE ROYAL NAVY IN EASTERN WATERS: LINCHPIN OF VICTORY, 1935-1942 (2017)

Boyd’s revisionist account of British strategy and policy in the Far East successfully links the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean, and the South Pacific.  His account fundamentally reshapes our understanding of the Second World War at sea in this region. Boyd places the controversial Singapore strategy in a wider context, showing that British officials viewed the Persia-India-Australia axis as the eastern core of the Empire.  The British presence guarded this vital core from the eastern Mediterranean on one side to Singapore on the other.

(Return to July 2018 Table of Contents)

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