The Free Sea

The American Fight for Freedom of Navigation

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  • Format:
  • Pages:
  • Published:
    June 15, 2018
  • ISBN-10:
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  • Product Dimensions:
    9 × 6 × 1 in
  • Product Weight:
    27 oz
Hardcover $8.79
Book: Cover Type


The Free Sea offers a unique, single-volume analysis of incidents in American history that affected U.S. freedom of navigation at sea. The book spans more than 200 years, beginning in the Colonial era with the Quasi-War with France in 1798 and extending to contemporary Freedom of Navigation operations in the South China Sea. Through wars and numerous crises with North Korea, North Vietnam, Cambodia, Iran, Russia and China, freedom of navigation has been a persistent challenge for the United States, a nation reliant on open seas for economic prosperity, military security and global order.

This volume focuses on the struggle to retain freedom of the seas. Challenges to U.S. warships and maritime commerce have pushed, and continue to challenge, the United States to vindicate its rights through diplomatic, legal, and military means, underscoring the need for the strategic resolve in the global maritime commons.

About the Author

Editorial Reviews

“James Kraska and Raul Pedrozo's book is a timely piece of scholarship to facilitate greater understanding about freedom of navigation from American perspective.” —Maritime Issues
The Free Sea depicts a more realistic and accurate image of the United States as an assertive-but-equal, and sometimes vulnerable, maritime player.... The book is a well-researched, well-argued, and well-written book. Kraska and Pedrozo are to be commended for their effort.” —The Strategy Bridge
“This is an important read, pertinent and illuminating.” —The NAVY Magazine
“This sophisticated yet approachable book chronicles the 200-year fight for freedom of navigation by the U.S. Navy. From the Quasi-War with France and Barbary Wars to the 'Tanker War' in the Persian Gulf and China's dangerous gambit in the South China Sea, this story shows how the perilous failure to stand up for legal rights of navigation tragically leads to war. A unique and sobering analysis of international law, sea power, and strategic security.” —Adm. James Stavridis, USN, (Ret.), Dean Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
“The Free Sea provides an exceptionally valuable account of challenges to U.S. freedom of navigation from the late 19th century to the present day. Using case studies, Kraska and Pedrozo detail how the U.S. responded to these challenges and provide compelling analysis to demonstrate the importance of unimpeded use of the oceans to U.S. economic prosperity and security. The Free Sea will likely be an enduring textbook for students of maritime law and will also appeal to general readers with interest in maritime history.” —Bonnie S. Glaser, Director, China Power Project, Center for Strategic and International Studies
“Fundamentally, the United States is a maritime nation. We depend on freedom of the seas for our vital economy, our way of life. A keen understanding of freedom of navigation throughout the world's waters is challenging but essential. Kraska and Pedrozo do a masterful job capturing the essential strategic elements of maritime operations. Theirs is an important contribution to this critical discussion.” —Adm. Timothy J. Keating, USN (Ret.)
“In their superb and elegantly written book, The Free Sea, James Kraska and Raul Pedrozo argue that protecting freedom of navigation is an international good and that failing to do so cracks today's international system. They are right. Freedom of navigation at sea is essential to global commerce, the U.S.'s ability to project power, and communicate with allies around the world. China, Russia, and Iran are challenging the principle today. The Free Sea explains why it must be defended. The book should be read by everyone who wants the U.S. to remain a great power.” —Seth Cropsey, Director, Hudson Institute Center for American Seapower
“Kraska and Pedrozo have provided not only an invaluable description of the threat China presents to the U.S. Navy, but a guide to legal ripostes to Chinese behavior that can be implemented now. They have written a handbook for action and a historical justification that all officials working on China must read.” —Naval War College Review
“[A] useful, accessible, and nicely documented assemblage and analysis of significant episodes in the American experience not just for policymakers and those who study international law and the law of the sea, but for aviators, diplomats, historians, political scientists, sailors, and others more generally.” —The American Journal of International Law