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Voices of Leadership, Sacrifice, and Service from America's Longest War
  • ISBN/SKU: 9781612511382
  • Binding: Hardcover & eBook
  • Era: 21st Century
  • Number of Pages: 264
  • Subject: Biography
  • Date Available: August 2012
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Also Available in an Audio Edition from Audible via Amazon


                                                     Named a "Notable Naval Book of 2012" by Proceedings Magazine

Added to the Los Angeles Times Bestsellers List in the Nonfiction Category, October 21, 2012

“These proud Annapolis graduates provide a glimpse of the achievements of and contributions made by today’s young service members, making a strong case that they are worthy of being called the next great generation.”—Publishers Weekly review July 30

They were walking to class on 9/11 when the World Trade Center and Pentagon were hit. These midshipmen graduated from the United States Naval Academy into a nation at war, the first class to do so since Vietnam. The men and women of the Class of 2002 lost their youth to a decade of war and their innocence on battlefields in distant places. Each story provides a glimpse into the lives of modern-day military officers who were faced with unique challenges. Their stories bring to light the trials of war and reveal a world most don’t understand. Refreshingly candid, their narratives take readers on a journey from Annapolis to the far corners of the world to experience operations at sea, on the land, and in the skies.

Prophetically inscribed on the Class of 2002’s Naval Academy graduation rings are the words “in harm’s way.” In the Shadow of Greatness pays tribute to classmates who paid the ultimate price for their nation within years after graduation. Mothers of the fallen reflect on their children’s loyalty to their country, contributors provide visceral accounts of courage under fire, and others recount hardship in unexpected places, beyond the sands of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The editors spent three years inviting their classmates to open their hearts and share experiences endured on the front lines. Serving as a virtual podium for those unlikely to speak about war, these first-person accounts are written with humility and respect for those with whom they served, bringing deserved recognition to all veterans of the era. As wars in Iraq and Afghanistan subside, those who depart the service are seeking a higher purpose at home. Read their stories of enduring commitment to country as they return from the battlefield and become leaders out of uniform.

About the Editors

Joshua Welle, a surface warfare officer and a former NATO economic adviser in Afghanistan, is class president of USNA 2002 and a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations. John Ennis, a former Navy lieutenant with service in two warships and as a Pentagon speechwriter, is currently an account executive at IBM.  Katherine Kranz is an E-2C Hawkeye NFO and flew three overseas deployments. She recently served as a NATO adviser and executive aide in Afghanistan. Graham Plaster served as a surface warfare officer and is currently a foreign area officer supporting UN peacekeeping operations.

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~ Praise for In the Shadow of Greatness ~


"The contributors do not focus on any one community but run the gamut of their experiences, both deployed and stateside, concentrating on leadership. The book’s value lies in its ability to convey some of the lessons that these young men and women paid such a high price to learn. Their stories will give anyone, of any rank or experience, an idea of how young leaders think and why they choose the courses they do. In the Shadow of Greatness is not required reading for airpower historians; however, anyone with an interest in leadership—its development, motivations, and the toll it can exact—should pick up a copy."

Air & Space Power Journal

“This is an excellent book and informative for all hands.”

The Hook: Journal of Carrier Aviation

In the Shadow of Greatness will endure as an important first person narrative of this global war. Similarly, it will become an important read for midshipmen or junior officers to understand the challenges faced by those who served before them. Finally, it is simply a great anthology for fans of any military read.”

Naval Historical Foundation

“[This book] shows the dedication and high quality of the young leaders who have met the challenges of a long war and shown the way for those who follow in their footsteps.”

Seapower, December 2012

“All of these stories give voice to courage, sacrifice, and the nobility of living in the service of others. In closing the book, Admiral Mullen notes that the members of this class, like those before and after it, “have kept sharp and sure the instruments by which U.S. national security is preserved.” He believes “they are positioned, because of their diverse experiences, to lead both in and out of uniform in the years to come.” Like their counterparts at West Point and elsewhere, the members of the Naval Academy’s Class of 2002 have borne the burden of battle for the past decade. In the Shadow of Greatness shows us how they have done it.”


"This is a must read for all Americans—an up close and personal account of duty and sacrifice by graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy in Iraq and Afghanistan. You´ll stand a little straighter when you mingle with these remarkable fellow citizens."

—Tom Brokaw, author of The Time of Our Lives and The Greatest Generation

 “This powerful book captures the bravery and sacrifice of a decade of war, and its lessons apply to the boardroom as well as the battlefield. Read it and take heart in a new generation of proven leaders.”

—Nathaniel Fick, U.S. Marine Corps veteran and author of One Bullet Away:  The Making of a Marine Officer

 "The men and women of the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 2002 now have a dual legacy of service: first, their leadership around the world during wartime, and now their well-told consideration of what it all meant. In the Shadow of Greatness is an inspiring book."

Bill Murphy Jr., author of In a Time of War: The Proud & Perilous Journey of West Point's Class of 2002.

 "Most may never wear a uniform in defense of our country’s values.  What we owe those who do is to listen and honor their stories. Captured so well within these pages are vivid and diverse accounts of courage, quiet competence, and integrity--values forged within the hearts of a new generation of leaders. All Americans can learn, and emulate, their credo: Not for self, but for country."

—Craig Mullaney, U.S. Army combat veteran and author of The Unforgiving Minute:  A Soldier's Education

 "To the Class of 2002, I thank you for sharing your stories and opening America’s eyes to the challenges faced by your generation, which in my view really is the next ‘greatest generation.’ . . .  My advice to you is simple: Continue to listen, learn, and lead in the decades ahead. Your families and your fellow citizens are counting on you."

—Adm. Mike Mullen, USN (Ret.), 17th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

 “In the Shadow of Greatness is a powerful set of stories from gifted young men and women serving on the front lines of America’s most important wars.  Their combination of raw heroism, bravery, and sacrifice make it a gripping and deeply moving book.”

—Seth G. Jones, author of Hunting in the Shadows:  The Pursuit of Al Qa’ida since 9/11 and former senior advisor at U.S. Special Operations Command

 “This is a unique book.  It is a collection of ‘sea stories’ written by a select group of young graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy.  The stories cover events that occurred during their first ten years of commissioned service. They address a gamut of subjects including  combat, disaster relief, casualty reporting, and personal relationships.  As such, they provide a window through which the reader can learn what goes through the minds of young officers during their early years of service.  Since there is frequent reference to the lessons learned while at the Naval Academy, the book can serve as an excellent medium by which Academy authorities can evaluate the appropriateness of the Academy curriculum.”

Vice Admiral Jerry E. Miller, USN (Ret.), author of Stockpile:  The Story Behind 10,000 Strategic Nuclear Weapons


Joshua Welle became a surface warfare officer after commissioning. When not at sea, he earned two master's degrees from the University of Maryland in politics and business administration.  He was an instructor at the Naval Academy, teaching international relations, and was the special assistant to Adm. William Crowe, the 11th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. A veteran of the Afghanistan War, Joshua served as an economic advisor to NATO, Regional Command South. He is the president of the Class of 2002 and is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

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