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After he was selected to be NATO's sixteenth Supreme Allied Commander, The New York Times described Jim Stavridis as a -Renaissance admiral.- A U. S. Naval Academy graduate with a master's degree and doctorate from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, conversant in both French and Spanish, this author of numerous books and articles impressed the Na After he was selected to be NATO's sixteenth Supreme Allied Commander, The New York Times described Jim Stavridis as a -Renaissance admiral.- A U. S. Naval Academy graduate with a master's degree and doctorate from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, conversant in both French and Spanish, this author of numerous books and articles impressed the Navy's leaders and senior Pentagon civilians with his wide range of interests, educational background, keen understanding of strategic doctrine, mastery of long-range planning, and command of international affairs. Since NATO had previously been led by generals, Stavridis saw his assignment as the first admiral to take command as somewhat -accidental.- As the American and NATO commander in Europe responsible for 120,000 coalition troops serving in fifty-one nations, on three continents and at sea he had come a long way since almost leaving the Navy for law school five years after receiving his commission. The Accidental Admiral offers an intimate look at the challenges of directing NATO operations in Afghanistan, military intervention in Libya, and preparation for possible war in Syria--as well as worrying about the Balkans, cyber threats, and piracy, all while cutting NATO by a third due to budget reductions by the twenty-eight nations of the alliance. More than just describing the history of the times, Stavridis also shares his insights into the personalities of President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretaries of Defense Robert Gates, Leon Panetta, and Chuck Hagel, Afghan President Hamid Karzai; Generals David Petraeus, Stanley McChrystal, John Allen, and many more. Known as an innovator and an early adopter of technology and social media, Stavridis' ability to think -outside the box- and sail in uncharted waters is unmatched. He shares his insights on leadership, strategic communications, planning, and the convergence of threats that will confront the United States and its allies in the near future. Stavridis is an advocate of the use of -Smart Power, - which he defines as the balance of hard and soft power. He explains that in creating security in the twenty-first century it is critical to build bridges, not walls, and stresses the need to connect international, interagency, and public-private actors to achieve security.


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After he was selected to be NATO's sixteenth Supreme Allied Commander, The New York Times described Jim Stavridis as a -Renaissance admiral.- A U. S. Naval Academy graduate with a master's degree and doctorate from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, conversant in both French and Spanish, this author of numerous books and articles impressed the Na After he was selected to be NATO's sixteenth Supreme Allied Commander, The New York Times described Jim Stavridis as a -Renaissance admiral.- A U. S. Naval Academy graduate with a master's degree and doctorate from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, conversant in both French and Spanish, this author of numerous books and articles impressed the Navy's leaders and senior Pentagon civilians with his wide range of interests, educational background, keen understanding of strategic doctrine, mastery of long-range planning, and command of international affairs. Since NATO had previously been led by generals, Stavridis saw his assignment as the first admiral to take command as somewhat -accidental.- As the American and NATO commander in Europe responsible for 120,000 coalition troops serving in fifty-one nations, on three continents and at sea he had come a long way since almost leaving the Navy for law school five years after receiving his commission. The Accidental Admiral offers an intimate look at the challenges of directing NATO operations in Afghanistan, military intervention in Libya, and preparation for possible war in Syria--as well as worrying about the Balkans, cyber threats, and piracy, all while cutting NATO by a third due to budget reductions by the twenty-eight nations of the alliance. More than just describing the history of the times, Stavridis also shares his insights into the personalities of President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretaries of Defense Robert Gates, Leon Panetta, and Chuck Hagel, Afghan President Hamid Karzai; Generals David Petraeus, Stanley McChrystal, John Allen, and many more. Known as an innovator and an early adopter of technology and social media, Stavridis' ability to think -outside the box- and sail in uncharted waters is unmatched. He shares his insights on leadership, strategic communications, planning, and the convergence of threats that will confront the United States and its allies in the near future. Stavridis is an advocate of the use of -Smart Power, - which he defines as the balance of hard and soft power. He explains that in creating security in the twenty-first century it is critical to build bridges, not walls, and stresses the need to connect international, interagency, and public-private actors to achieve security.

30 review for The Accidental Admiral: A Sailor Takes Command at NATO

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nick Frazier

    Partial memoirs focused on the senior years of ADM(r) Stavridis. He provides an insiders perspective to his approach to these positions. Of note, his role as SACEUR/EUCOM 4-star blurred the lines between diplomacy and military leader - the ability to mollify alliance members in support of Afghanistan operation was a honed skill. He provided his opinion on contemporaries (Mattis, McChrystal, and Allen). He discussed his missteps with social media. And he talked about how multiple senior leaders t Partial memoirs focused on the senior years of ADM(r) Stavridis. He provides an insiders perspective to his approach to these positions. Of note, his role as SACEUR/EUCOM 4-star blurred the lines between diplomacy and military leader - the ability to mollify alliance members in support of Afghanistan operation was a honed skill. He provided his opinion on contemporaries (Mattis, McChrystal, and Allen). He discussed his missteps with social media. And he talked about how multiple senior leaders threatened his career when he published an article they did not like - a perpetual line stepper through and through. In addition to the interesting stories about his nomination and serving, two stories stuck out to me: 1) the author was on track to serve as the Chief of Naval Operations - the senior Navy officer and what would have been his 3rd 4-star billet (SOUTHCOM; EUCOM being prior). However, an anonymous Inspector General complaint against his travel in Europe effectively ended the nomination. The length of time it takes to thoroughly investigate the matter killed the nomination. In the end, it was unsubstantiated, but not before throwing a bit of a shadow over four decades of honorable service. 2) The second point in the book that jumped out was his 13th chapter - his take on the idea of "innovation." If a military leader wants to get really good, we do lots of repetitions, but sometimes, you need to do something different. History is littered with examples of trying different ways to achieve surprise/success. However, in the interwar years, these new attempts threaten the status quo - think Billy Mitchel and aircraft carriers or the push for Unmanned Aerial Systems. The author believed it was important to nurture a small innovation cell at every command comprised of people that think a bit differently and are "half a step off" from the rest. Encourage them to test things that will fail. Give them time, backing, and a bit of money and the results will surprise you. Protect them from the mainliners that are threatened by different. In the military, we get better through repetition. The need to try new things is important to prevent surprise or address unanticipated problems. The secondary effects of an innovation cell spread throughout the command as leaders become aware of the benefits. Parting shot: I enjoyed the witty turns of phrases throughout the book. You can tell he has a sense of humor.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    Admiral Stavridis humbly reflects on his role as Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) the commander of NATO troops and all American troops in Europe. Admiral Stavridis was the first and only Admiral in a position that is typically shuffled between Army and Air Force generals. Stavridis reflects on the challenges and opportunities of allies, the current political hot spots and the nature of leadership. Why I started this book: My professional reading list is long, and sometimes I just attack Admiral Stavridis humbly reflects on his role as Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) the commander of NATO troops and all American troops in Europe. Admiral Stavridis was the first and only Admiral in a position that is typically shuffled between Army and Air Force generals. Stavridis reflects on the challenges and opportunities of allies, the current political hot spots and the nature of leadership. Why I started this book: My professional reading list is long, and sometimes I just attack it alphabetically. Why I finished it: Stavridis is a persuasive author. I'm ready to be a better leader, citizen and reader.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Anthony

    I'm still unsure about what rating I would give this book. It's really two books in one. The first section is filled with Stavridis' views on recent and current world events. There are a lot of great nuggets in these chapters, but there is also too much ego pumping. There's too much in the way of describing events and people associated directly with the US as "excellent" or "outstanding" even when we know the view should be more nuanced than that. The second story involves touching on various le I'm still unsure about what rating I would give this book. It's really two books in one. The first section is filled with Stavridis' views on recent and current world events. There are a lot of great nuggets in these chapters, but there is also too much ego pumping. There's too much in the way of describing events and people associated directly with the US as "excellent" or "outstanding" even when we know the view should be more nuanced than that. The second story involves touching on various leadership subjects. This area is better than the first when it comes to critical review. In the end I've decided on 4 stars, but it's really a 3.5. However, if there was a bit more of a critical look at how the US performed in various past actions, then I'd give it a solid 4 or 4.5.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Suri

    I first heard of this author after reading an article he wrote, Don't Shortchange Foreign Aid. Working in international development and an rPCV, I was appreciative to hear someone with such an extensive military background espouse the importance, even imperative, of a multi-pronged approach that extended beyond just armed forces. Starting to look into the author more and growing to appreciate his relatable writing voice, I came across the Accidental Admiral. I've found this book to be helpfully I first heard of this author after reading an article he wrote, Don't Shortchange Foreign Aid. Working in international development and an rPCV, I was appreciative to hear someone with such an extensive military background espouse the importance, even imperative, of a multi-pronged approach that extended beyond just armed forces. Starting to look into the author more and growing to appreciate his relatable writing voice, I came across the Accidental Admiral. I've found this book to be helpfully informative and feel like I now have a better understanding of the context that he discusses. I also liked the recommended reading list in the appendix. I highly recommend this book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rick Zinn

    A quick audio book for work. The first third of the book is basically how I became Supreme Allied Commander at NATO. The second third is a quick review of the NATO hotspots during his term in office. I found this to be the best parts of the book, it was written in 2014 and you can read today as the origins of troubles we still have. The last third of the book about leadership lessons and leadership styles and it’s really good, it would get a great addition to a reading list for any number of pro A quick audio book for work. The first third of the book is basically how I became Supreme Allied Commander at NATO. The second third is a quick review of the NATO hotspots during his term in office. I found this to be the best parts of the book, it was written in 2014 and you can read today as the origins of troubles we still have. The last third of the book about leadership lessons and leadership styles and it’s really good, it would get a great addition to a reading list for any number of professional programs.The book is never dry, and has practical insights on any number of topics.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Larry

    An interesting read from an obviously thoughtful and accomplished patriot. This is not a tell-all as Admiral Stavridis sticks to descriptions of people he admires. Everyone is really good at their jobs or apparently left out of the book. It get tedious toward the last third, when he gets into management and leadership philosophy that is both repetitive and has all been said before by others. clearly a great man and patriot and it comes through in spades. The kind of guy you want to say "thank yo An interesting read from an obviously thoughtful and accomplished patriot. This is not a tell-all as Admiral Stavridis sticks to descriptions of people he admires. Everyone is really good at their jobs or apparently left out of the book. It get tedious toward the last third, when he gets into management and leadership philosophy that is both repetitive and has all been said before by others. clearly a great man and patriot and it comes through in spades. The kind of guy you want to say "thank you for your service" and REALLY mean it, so it's worth a read.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Hunt Henrie

    Interesting tales from a very smart guy who has been involved in some of the most sensitive world events over the past 10 years. I would have preferred deeper analysis of some of the tense situations and less about how many people the admiral knew or met. The book sometimes read like a travelogue. Clearly a bright man.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Mincy

    Good, informative, enjoyable Good, informative, enjoyable, but more of a memoir than I was expecting. His other book Destroyer Captain is more of a direct leadership book. Of course, this is to be expected considering the vastly different point in time and responsibilities he holds in the two books.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Terry Feix

    An autobiography of admiral James Stavridis, Head of NATO, filled with great leadership lessons.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Graham

    I was disappointed. Expected more of a story about him instead he talks more about the others he worked with and in glowing terms at that. Not your typical biography

  11. 4 out of 5

    John Broomhead

    Enjoyable and personable read. Emphasizes importance of relationships in building and maintaining global stability.

  12. 5 out of 5

    John Rose

    Great book well written

  13. 4 out of 5

    Shirley Freeman

    James Stavridis gave an excellent talk at the January Series this year. I remember taking copious notes and actually typing them up later. The talk was on global security in the 21st century. His overall theme was that we needed to be about building bridges, not walls, and that our primary task was to listen. I liked his style. I liked his book also, though it was a bit more ego-driven than his talk. The book is basically a memoir of his four years as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO and command James Stavridis gave an excellent talk at the January Series this year. I remember taking copious notes and actually typing them up later. The talk was on global security in the 21st century. His overall theme was that we needed to be about building bridges, not walls, and that our primary task was to listen. I liked his style. I liked his book also, though it was a bit more ego-driven than his talk. The book is basically a memoir of his four years as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO and commander of the U.S. European Command. Six chapters are about individual countries/areas of the world (Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, the Balkans, Israel, Russia). He covers events that happened under his watch at NATO, why certain decisions were taken and what the future might hold. The next few chapters are on leadership including a separate chapter on innovation. Those were excellent. The last couple chapters covered "what keeps him up at night" in terms of world security, the future of NATO and his retirement from 4 decades in the Navy. Reading this book was a mind-broadening experience.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tony Taylor

    Extremely interesting... not only from the insight of one of our most senior military officers as to the workings of political and military policy as it relates to the US in its roles in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, but also as to the importance of leadership in all levels of the military structure. Admiral Stavridis is not only a leader in the realm of foreign and military policy, but an intellectual and author who knows how to write what otherwise could be very dry and uninterest Extremely interesting... not only from the insight of one of our most senior military officers as to the workings of political and military policy as it relates to the US in its roles in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, but also as to the importance of leadership in all levels of the military structure. Admiral Stavridis is not only a leader in the realm of foreign and military policy, but an intellectual and author who knows how to write what otherwise could be very dry and uninteresting into an engaging book that should appeal to all readers with an interest in current affairs and international politics. Admiral Stavridis, who is now retired from the service, was the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO and is now the dean of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and a frequent guest commentator on Fox News.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Charles Gallagher

    Superb leadership examples at the four star Unified Command level. Excellent evaluation of Afghanistan, its risks, and his analysis about the probability of success. Several examples of four star Admirals and Generals having their career paths derailed by some less than significant event. One incident resulted in Admiral Stavridis's selection as SACEUR and CINCEUR rather than CINCPAC. Another resulted in his retirement rather than nomination as the CNO. I wholeheartedly support his thinking abou Superb leadership examples at the four star Unified Command level. Excellent evaluation of Afghanistan, its risks, and his analysis about the probability of success. Several examples of four star Admirals and Generals having their career paths derailed by some less than significant event. One incident resulted in Admiral Stavridis's selection as SACEUR and CINCEUR rather than CINCPAC. Another resulted in his retirement rather than nomination as the CNO. I wholeheartedly support his thinking about conflict resolution.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Pushtigban

    Generally a good book of memoir and leadership, but took two stars off due to using incorrect name for Persian Gulf and for inaccurate, idealization of ancient Greeks as the land of free and defenders of democracy against scary Persian Empire.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Zach

    A great memoir by one of the leading soldier-scholars of today. Highly recommend for those interested in understanding the west's role in trying to stop the numerous conflicts we face today.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    Interesting read. I appreciated the suggested reading sections at the end.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Josiah

  20. 4 out of 5

    Eithan Fisher

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

  22. 4 out of 5

    Patricia S. Watkins1

  23. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Uljua

  25. 5 out of 5

    John

  26. 4 out of 5

    Matt Westbrook

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mike

  28. 5 out of 5

    Colleen

  29. 5 out of 5

    Geoff

  30. 5 out of 5

    Charles Newton

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