21st Century Mahan

Sound Military Conclusions for the Modern Era

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Alfred Thayer Mahan’s The Influence of Seapower upon History is well known to students of naval history and strategy, but his other writings are often dismissed as irrelevant to today’s problems. This collection of five of Mahan’s essays, along with Benjamin Armstrong’s informative introductions, illustrates why Mahan’s work remains relevant to the 21st century and how it can help develop our strategic thinking. People misunderstand Mahan, the editor argues, because they have read only what others say about him, not what Mahan wrote himself. Armstrong’s analysis is derived directly from Mahan’s own writings. From the challenges of bureaucratic organization and the pit falls of staff duty, to the development of global strategy and fleet composition, to illustrations of effective combat leadership, Armstrong demonstrates that Mahan’s ideas continue to provide today’s readers with a solid foundation to address the challenges of a rapidly globalizing world.

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Editorial Reviews

"In this very valuable analysis Armstrong looks at and interprets five of Mahan's finest essays. He very logically and rationally places them in the current context where they sit very well." — Word Boat World
"...Outstanding 'must read' book." — Armchair General
"Armstrong succeeds in achieving his goal of making Mahan's ideas accessible and relevant. In the process, he compellingly challenges the conventional interpretations of Mahan's works. Instead of an fossilized relic, 21st Century Mahan reveals its protagonist as a perceptive, flexible, innovative thinker. While Mahan did champion the battleship as the navy's strategic cornerstone, he envisioned it as the locus of an adaptive, balanced force designed to confront a dynamic world situation. On the level of policy, Mahan explored the linkages between national economic aspirations and potential international conflict. Armstrong also shows how Mahan recognized both the promise and peril of globalization. Military policy, Mahan believed, must remain closely attuned to worldwide economic and political conditions. Finally, Mahan advocated an honest assessment of potential threat risks to fundamentally inform national debates on policy, strategy, and defense budgets. 21st Century Mahan is a must-read for today's military and naval professionals. Students of public policy and history (military, political, and diplomatic) will find Armstrong's work especially enlightening. The book also lends itself well to use in the college classroom." — Naval History Book Reviews
"Armstrong's strength is his ability to force his readers to reexamine Mahan and his ability to synthesize the master's ideas on the importance of Asia, preparing for conflict, and tensions between the fighter and the administrator. I hope the author will continue his writing and provoking fresh thought within our Navy. This is a fine read for those with an interest in maritime strategy generally, and Mahan specifically." — DCMilitary.com