New book: A Brief Guide to Maritime Strategy

Holmes Brief Guide

First published in December 2019, this book will acquaint junior naval officers, congressional staffers, aspiring graduate students — really anyone who wants to know about the sea and how oceangoing peoples accomplish their goals at sea — with the basics of maritime strategy. The book is short and accessible enough to be read and digested in the few short hours naval officers have to devote to matters beyond tactics, seamanship, engineering, and administration. It will help readers understand why we do what we do when we put to sea.

A Brief Guide to Maritime Strategy appeared through the Naval Institute Press, a charter member of the Association of University Presses. It has been named to the U.S. Navy Professional Reading List as Foundational Reading.

From the Foreword by Admiral John M. Richardson, U.S. Navy:

“Today, the need for clear strategic thinking is acute. In order to make progress, the naval officer corps needs a common baseline—perspective and vocabulary—to identify and debate courses of action meant to help achieve strategic advantage. That means all officers, from newly commissioned ensigns and second lieutenants to senior admirals and generals, need to be familiar with the strategic canon. Professor Holmes has done a great service to help us achieve this fluency.”

Advance praise from Admiral Jim Stavridis, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander and Dean Emeritus of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University:

“Deep into the first chapter of this brilliant strategic primer, Professor Holmes says, ‘Alfred Thayer Mahan is smiling down from heaven.’ So true — because this slender volume gathers the scoop about strategy into a highly readable format. This is a foundational volume in the library of any naval officer or global sailor seeking to understand the role of the oceans in our turbulent world.”

From Robert Work, former Deputy Secretary of Defense and Undersecretary of the Navy:

“Professor Jim Holmes is one of the leading naval strategists around today, and this lively, informative and well-written volume stands testament to this fact. It is the strategic bookend to Wayne Hughes’ classic Fleet Tactics, and a must read for any student of maritime power.”

From Captain Wayne Hughes Jr., Dean Emeritus of the Naval Postgraduate School and author of the landmark Fleet Tactics series:

“In his concise, jargon-free book Professor Holmes has reduced the elements of maritime strategy to their essence. Holmes brings new life to the writings of Mahan, Corbett, and other authors of naval classics by showing why our maritime nation must continue to exercise a maritime strategy in peace and war if we are to sustain our values in the future.”

And from Professor Geoffrey Till, Director of the Corbett Center for Maritime Policy and author of the Seapower series:

“This book is much more than the ‘good first word about maritime strategy’ that it says it is. Written in an accessible and readable way, it distills the thoughts of Mahan and Corbett and other key commentators to show how nations use power at sea to achieve their policy objectives.”