The Sailor’s Bookshelf – Fifty Books to Know the Sea

Being there . . . . among friends who love to READ, especially those who love the Sea . . .

Synopses From 50 Wonderful Sea Stories Picturing the History,
Importance, Love, and Lifestyles of the World’s Oceans

Reviewed and Highly Recommended by Don DeNevi

“The Sailor’s Bookshelf – – Fifty Books to Know the Sea”, by Adm. James Stavridis, USN (RET.). Naval Institute Press; 216pp, hc; $24.95

 Three decades or so ago, NIP proudly published a new series of classic works of naval history, biography, and fiction. At the time, Jack Sweetman was Series Editor and saw to it that each volume was complete, unabridged, and included an authoritative introduction written specifically for Classics of Naval Literature. For all sea lovers, from gobs to naval officers of the highest rank, wealthy yacht men to rowboat fishermen, general naval military buffs, and coastal trail hikers, the series was a Godsent treasure trove of information, and above all, long hours of thoroughly enjoyable reading. 

 Now, arrives Jim Stavridis, a retired seven year four-star admiral who served as the NATO Alliance Supreme Allied commander, with an echo and hope from his superlative, “The Sailor’s Bookshelf”. The echo: a reminiscence of how for decades NIP was a naval literary fountainhead,  with the Classics integrally and intrinsically involved, which all America’s general readers, scholars, and military-minded, applauded. At the time, without a smidgen of difference, today, Naval Institute’s bold conception of what naval literature should include is nonpareil. And, the hope? Bring an old seadog like Admiral Stavridis out of retirement, and under the usual creative publishing tutelage of NIP staff, allow the admiral to step into Jack’s empty shoes, with complete freedom, to lead starving sea literature readers into long forgotten, unknown books, anthologies, compendiums, even articles, about the unconquerable immensities of the world’s oceans and seas, and what has happened on, over, and under them since the invention of water. 

 In a concluding Afterword for “The Sailor’s Bookshelf”, Cdr. J.D. Kristenson, USN, writes, “The legendary Admiral’s 35-year active service, with a PhD no less, wrote out of twin loves, a love of the sea and a love of books. It simply could not have been written by someone whose life was not awash with both . . . Ancient mariners set their course and crossed oceans guided only by the stars . . . similarly, over the last four decades of his distinguished career, Jim has accomplished an equally impressive feat of intellectual navigation, assembling a constellation of great literature that has illuminated the path from one waypoint to another.”

May the editors of Naval Institute Press persuade their superiors powers-that-be to get on with it, and do their duty by politely asking Admiral James Stavridis to resume Jack’s task by bringing back from obscurity into view, “Classics of Naval Literature”, for the immediate publication of a thousand new titles.