BOOK REVIEW | The Sailor’s Bookshelf: Fifty Books to Know the Sea

Admiral Jim Stavridis has for many years been a very prolific author and commentator. He proves that the expression “naval intellectual” is not a complete oxymoron.

This little book explaining why the fifty books he cites are his favourites and why they are important is both useful and interesting. This reviewer almost entirely agrees with the admiral’s selection, having himself read 62 per cent of the titles that he recommends.

Stavridis is not as big a fan of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick as is your reviewer, who loves the book and always has done. Your reviewer particularly appreciates Mr Melville’s brilliant descriptions of whaling as it really happened in the first half of the nineteenth century.

Stavridis also affords Sylvia Earle far more praise than she deserves. Your reviewer believes she is greatly over-rated and that her main skill is as a self-publicist.

Other than those two small quibbles, the admiral’s remarkably global selection could not be improved. The books he cites do a first-rate job of assisting their readers to really know the sea. Buy or borrow them all and read them, cover to cover, soon!

Author: Admiral James Stavridis, USN (Ret)

Available from the Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, USA.


Neil Baird

Co-founder and former Editor-in-Chief of Baird Maritime and Work Boat World magazine, Neil has travelled the length and breadth of this planet in over 40 years in the business. He knows the global work boat industry better than anyone.