In the Shadow of Greatness

"Voices of Leadership, Sacrifice, and Service from America's Longest War"

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

Their stories needed to be told. And classmates working together, under a blanket of trust and friendship, was the only way to allow people to open up. It was a three year journey into the hearts and souls of America’s youngest heroes to gather these important historical accounts, but it was worth every hour spent. Inside this book are the voices the first Annapolis graduates into a decade of war and they remind us that America is in good hands.

They were walking to class on 9/11, wearing Naval Academy “summer working blues”, when the towers were struck. The campus went to general quarters, battle stations. They would be the first class after this attack to graduate into a nation at war and would be faced, like so many past graduates, of rising to the challenge to keeping America great. President Bush and Vice President Cheney articulated a world at the crossroads, and the U.S. would preemptively in seek enemies who threatened the national interest, America would not again be terrorized.

In the Shadow of Greatness addresses issues that go beyond one USNA class, it explains the trials of most military veterans of this era. Understanding how a young person enlists to serve, deploys to the fight, and returns home is unknown to most Americans. Veterans pack up their uniforms, but never lose the call for service when the return to civilian society.

The profiles in this book represent the “Next Great Generation” of American leaders. Men and women who lost their innocence in battle and their youths to a decade of deployments, throughout which they never gave up hope. In exchange for down range scars, they gained an unbreakable sense of purpose to America’s ideals—freedom, equality, and democracy.

The compilation is the most authentic and raw narrative to emerge from the Wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and beyond. The reader enjoys a spectrum of stories, each patriotic and honorable. The narratives are meant to inspire, educate, and reveal a world many don’t understand. Its contents are readable and easy to appreciate.

The Class of 2002—and more broadly, the one million veterans of the Long War—are America’s leaders of tomorrow. Read this book to learn what they endured and why they are prepared.

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Editorial Reviews

"This is an excellent book and informative for all hands." — The Hook: Journal of Carrier Aviation
"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
"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
"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"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." — Proceedings"[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"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"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"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.
"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. You½ll 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
"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 adviser at U.S. Special Operations Command