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Sea Power summary

James Stavridis

The History and Geopolitics of the World’s Oceans

4 (52 ratings)
28 mins

Brief summary

Sea Power by James Stavridis is a comprehensive study of naval strategy throughout history. It explores the challenges facing maritime nations and the importance of sea power in international affairs. It offers valuable insights for leaders, military personnel, and anyone interested in global security.

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    Sea Power
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    Adventurous explorers and brilliant deals set the stage for exploring the Pacific Ocean.

    When it comes to sheer size, the Pacific Ocean reigns supreme. Believe it or not, you could combine every landmass on the planet, and it would still be smaller than the Pacific’s 64 million square miles of surface area.

    The Pacific is so vast that it wasn’t until the 1500s that explorers began to fully discover the secrets that lay beyond the western shores of the Americas.

    The intrepid Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan would be the first European to reach the distant Pacific islands of Guam, the Philippines and Cebu. This last destination was where Magellan was killed by locals after making the mistake of getting involved in their affairs.

    But perhaps the most celebrated sailor of the Pacific Ocean was James Cook. A captain in the British Royal Navy, Cook embarked on a series of voyages in the late 1700s that charted what was previously unknown, including key ports in places like Hawaii, Tahiti, Western Canada, Easter Island and parts of New Zealand.

    The United States greatly increased its interest in the Pacific following the gold rush in the mid-1800s. During this time, people from all over the country flocked to gold-rich hills of the US west coast, just as coal-powered ships were being introduced.

    These boats required coaling stations for long trips across the Pacific, which is exactly what Hawaii became when it was annexed by the United States in 1898. To this day, the Hawaiian islands continue to serve as a reliable gateway for the United States in the Pacific.

    A far more questionable land deal was made by the United States in 1867 when Secretary of State William Seward orchestrated the purchase of Alaska from Russia. Unlike Hawaii, this land was in a much chillier part of the North Pacific Ocean, and many vocal critics believed Seward had wasted money on a useless chunk of frozen tundra.

    They may have called it “Seward’s Folly” at the time, but as we’ll see, Alaska came to play a key role in the US economy further down the road.

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    What is Sea Power about?

    Sea Power (2017) provides an enlightening look at the role Earth’s oceans have played over the course of human history. From early voyagers who sailed into the vast unknown, to the tens of thousands of commercial ships now traversing the globe on a daily basis, our oceans have always been a powerful force that we’ve longed to tame and control. While we’ve come a long way, we still find ourselves faced with immense challenges that we’ll only overcome by working together.

    Sea Power Review

    Sea Power (2017) by James Stavridis is an enlightening exploration of the role of the sea in global affairs. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With its comprehensive analysis of naval warfare, it offers a deep understanding of the dynamic and evolving nature of maritime power.
    • Through a combination of historical examples and contemporary case studies, the book demonstrates the critical importance of the sea in shaping geopolitics.
    • Its fascinating insights into the future of naval power make it an engaging read for anyone interested in international relations and military strategy.

    Best quote from Sea Power

    Almost 3,000 Allied ships and more than 20 million tons of shipping were destroyed by German U-boats.

    —James Stavridis
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    Who should read Sea Power?

    • History buffs
    • News junkies worried about the future
    • Readers interested in politics and global affairs

    About the Author

    Admiral James Stavridis, USN (Ret.), spent close to four decades as an active member of the US Navy, where he served as commander of combat-ready destroyers and carriers. Before retiring, he was decorated as a four-star admiral with the rare honor of being the Supreme Allied Commander for Global Operations at NATO. He has since become dean of Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

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    Sea Power FAQs 

    What is the main message of Sea Power?

    The main message of Sea Power is the importance of maritime forces for global security and prosperity.

    How long does it take to read Sea Power?

    Reading Sea Power can take several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Sea Power a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Sea Power is worth reading for its insights into maritime strategy and its impact on world affairs.

    Who is the author of Sea Power?

    The author of Sea Power is James Stavridis.

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