21st Century Ellis

Operational Art and Strategic Prophecy for the Modern Era

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For years, the Marine Corps has touted the prescience of Lt. Col. “Pete” Ellis, USMC, who predicted in 1921 that the United States would fight Japan and how the Pacific Theater would be won. Now the works of the “amphibious prophet” are collected together for the first time. Included are Ellis’ essays on naval and amphibious operations that the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps would use to win the war against Imperial Japan, as well as his articles about counterinsurgency and conventional war based on his experiences in the Philippines and in Europe during World War I. As the United States focuses on the Pacific once again, Friedman presents Ellis’ ideas as a case study to inform current policymakers about the dynamics of strategy and warfare across the vast reaches of the Pacific. This collection reveals Ellis to be a thinker who was ahead of his time in identifying concepts the U.S. military struggles with even today.

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Editorial Reviews

"21st Century Ellis is a must read for all in the Naval Services. Emulating Ellis, we make the bold prediction that this important book will be added to our Commandant's Reading List." International Journal of Naval History
"To Friedman, Ellis's early-twentieth century blueprint for victory against Japan provides sound advice to early 21st-century American strategists confronting the possibility of a conflict with today's military powerhouse on the other side of the Pacific, China. Both scenarios envision a superior U.S. Navy assuming the strategic offensive and venturing across the Pacific to enforce its will against an adversary that will seek to attrite the battle fleet along its journey westward before a final reckoning takes place near the Asian mainland. With China becoming more aggressive in its claims of sovereignty over contested islands and waters, and America declaring a 'pivot toward Asia' to reassure its allies in the region, a trans-Pacific dispute once again looms. Whatever form it may take, the United States will need a credible amphibious capability. In light of this, American military leaders would be wise to revisit Ellis's writings. Thanks to Friedman, they can." International Journal of Maritime History
"The value of these books lies in their highly-readable format which presents essentially a 'best of' collection of Ellis' work. Recommended for the historian at heart but more so, for all junior Naval officers." Starshell
"21st Century Ellis is a solid contribution to the Naval Institute's '21st Century Foundations' series and the scholarship regarding the touted U.S. Marine Corps visionary Lieutenant Colonel Earl 'Pete' Ellis. The strength of this volume lies in the compilation of most of Ellis's scholarly works. B. A. Friedman has assembled five articles written by Ellis in the decade between 1911 and 1921 (a total of about 110 pages) into four chapters. Ellis's text is supplemented by Friedman's introduction and additional commentary highlighting the value of Ellis to both his contemporaries and current executors of the operational art." Naval War College Review
"As the edited articles show, while he was ahead of his time, his ideas and theories contributed significantly to America's victory over Japan some 22 years after his death at Japanese hands. As the editor contends, they have survived and flourished for 70 years beyond that." Baird Maritime Australia
"The book's four chapters highlight Ellis's writing on counterinsurgency, combined warfare, the modern Marine Corps, and the Pacific. In each case, Friedman provides useful background on the context in which Ellis wrote the passage, as well as thoughtful analysis of the writings' modern implications. Despite the transformations in technology, politics, and the structure of the international system that have taken place over the past century, many of Ellis's writings remain relevant today, and Friedman does an excellent job of connecting Ellis's writings to modern-day applications. He rightly recognizes the importance of Ellis's study of the Pacific for the modern challenge of rising Chinese power in the region. Military planners would do well to read Ellis's writings and Friedman's analysis, but even civilian policymakers and students of international relations are likely to find this work worthwhile. While history doesn't always repeat itself, it often sings a similar tune. This book helps relate that history to its modern day applications." RealClearBooks.com
"If you read 21st Century Ellis and cannot see the many parallels with the defence of Australia and its region then you just don't get it. Some of these concepts may be common knowledge to most navy and marine types but in the 21st century we need the Australian Army and the RAAF to get onboard the maritime world. 21st Century Ellis is highly recommended." Australian Naval Institute