Traditionally I shy away from buying a book about books, but once in a while, that general guideline must be be broken. Such is the case with The Sailor’s Bookshelf: Fifty Ways to Know the Sea

Admiral James Stavridis, USN (ret) is a storied US Naval Officer who had a stellar career and it takes somebody like Admiral Stavridis to generate the collection found in this book.

The scope of the book is broad: The Oceans; Explorers; Fictional Sailors and Non-Fictional Sailors and it guides readers through sea literature. The Sea – taken as a topic is many things to many people and in the case of the Sailor’s Bookshelf, the author explores that broad topic with a historical basis and the transformative nature of our modern understanding of the sea means both aesthetically and scientifically.

Control of the sea means control of commerce. Maintaining control often means war as nations extend their strategic reach.

This is one of those books that are useful to have in your seabag and it is recommended.

The Sailor’s Bookshelf: Fifty Books to Know the Sea is available from the US Naval Institute Press, – print or digital.

While I’m reviewing this book, Admiral Stavridis & Elliott Ackerman also wrote 2034: A Novel of the Next World War.

It stands out among the “futurist books” and is also highly recommended


  1. I read the book mentioned above “2034”. Interesting read but it seemed hurried through. Chinese, as portrayed in the book, are some ruthless bastards.

    • It’s difficult to write WW3 books. I think that the author treats the Chinese a bit too kindly. My take-away is that things wouldn’t go that way, but he was SHAPE/NATO and had as good of a hand on it as anyone.

      • Speaking of the Chinese I just finished Loki’s Fire (your second book in the Red Mist series). Good story!
        I am ready for the next one….

        • Thank you. Writing reviews are critical to authors these days because they lead to having outlets (primarily Amazon) advertising the work. No advertising, no sales. It’s kind of a vicious circle.

  2. Thanks to the pointer to the Wired installments, Don.
    I’ve not even heard of this novel until today, but based on this one bit alone (below, not much of a spoiler) I suspect I will like it.

    Lin Bao nodded disappointedly. “Very well,” he said. “I understand.” He crumpled up the candy wrapper and then pitched it on the sidewalk.

    “Pick that up, please, Admiral,” said Chowdhury.

    Lin Bao glanced down at the piece of litter. “Or else what?”

    As Chowdhury struggled to formulate a response, the admiral turned on his heels and stepped across the street, weaving his way through the late-morning traffic.

    Weak, very weak, Chowdhury. On top of violating “never give an order you know will not be obeyed,” Chowdhury gave an order to a man over whom he has no authority. Off the top of my head, his options were:
    1. ignore the obvious provocation;
    2. raise a disdainful eyebrow (or more cuttingly, smile as if amused by the acting-out of a child) but either road say nothing;
    3. pick up the wrapper yourself, hand it to the Admiral with “I believe you dropped this.” (If the Admiral refuses to take it, tuck it into his uniform somewhere if you’re really REALLY spoiling for a fight and looking to make a mortal enemy.)

    Chinese ARE ruthless bastards. My personal take (which is only an opinion) is that Chinese are neither sentimental nor easily moved by the plight of others (non-Han), though the PRC *has* learned the trick of whining about perceived or claimed insults and slights. N.B. the Chinese have always noticed, and remembered with an eye toward ten-fold payback, any slight, but the public declarations of victimhood they learned from “us”. My further opinion is that apart from the real issues of Chinese expansionism, and the war being a racket thing, there are forces that want the US in conflict with China and China taken down many notches, for Reasons.

    • Can there be a war with China that does not involve the use of ANY nuclear weapons? Do both sides have that kind of restraint? Today in the US who controls the nuclear launch codes? I’m sure that there is a protocol but it’s out of the hands of Jo/Ho, which makes sense at one level, but they were elected/installed with that sort of authority.

      China has no allies, it has no friends, it stands alone. Russia will give lip service to the extent that they’re putting their finger in somebody’s eye, but they’d benefit from a de-fanged China. Pakistan is an ally of convenience (at best).

      The rest of the world is re-arming against China. A war would ruin them financially even if very few shots were fired. The US isn’t a paper tiger. All Chinese ports are lined up. How many mines would it take to shut them down?

      China’s ego is massive. The Chinese deserve NO slack. But is a world war something that they want?

  3. Friend of mine was the EA to Stavridis when he was at NATO. She was taller than he was, which made for some ‘interesting’ situations. He was a worker according to her. In early, lots of late days, myriad of things going on every day. As she said, she ‘survived’ the tour.

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