21st Century Mahan

Sound Military Conclusions for the Modern Era

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Alfred Thayer Mahan’s The Influence of Sea Power upon History is well known to students of naval history and strategy, but his other writings are often overlooked when considering today’s challenges.  This collection of eight of Mahan’s essays, along with Benjamin Armstrong’s informative introductions and analysis, illustrates why Mahan’s work remains relevant in the 21st century and how that work can help develop our strategic understanding. 
People misunderstand Mahan, Armstrong reveals, because they have only read what others have to say about him, rather than what Mahan actually wrote.  From the challenges of bureaucracy and staff duty, the development of global strategy and fleet composition, and effective leadership included in the first edition, this second edition adds discussions of the United States’ place in the world, the difficulties of naval readiness, and the organization needed for construction of an effective national and naval strategy.  With these added essays from Mahan, and a new preface and conclusion analyzing his work from Armstrong, this book demonstrates that Mahan’s ideas about the importance of sea power continue to provide today’s readers with a necessary foundation to address the military and international challenges of the 21st century. 

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Editorial Reviews

Praise for the first edition of 21st Century Mahan"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
"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
"...Outstanding 'must read' book." — Armchair General
"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."— World Boat World
Alfred Thayer Mahan wrote about naval history, strategy, and geopolitics more than 100 years ago, yet, as Benjamin Armstrong points out in 21st Century Mahan: Sound Military Conclusions for the Modern Era (revised and expanded in the 2023 edition), the naval profession of today can still benefit from Mahan’s enduring insights about naval strategy and administration. We live in a globalized world with changing technology and shifting geopolitics — a world not that fundamentally different from Mahan’s. As Armstrong notes in his introduction, “The world of Mahan is today.” — Francis P. Sempa, author of America's Global Role: Essays and Reviews on National Security, Geopolitics and War