Professional Readings in U.S. Naval History


Part I: Core Readings
    • Selected Readings

Part II: Further Readings
    • Core Values
    • The American Sailor
    • Leadership
    • Science, Technology,
      and Industry
    • Strategy, Tactics, and
    • Campaigns, Operations,
      and Battles
            • 1775-1898
            • 1899-1945
            • 1946-1995
    • General Histories

Inauguration of
Professional Readings in U.S. Naval History

        In a recent issue of the U.S. Naval Institute’s Proceedings (May 2000), Lieutenant Thomas R. Williams II, USN, affirmed that “the time is ripe to create a ‘professional development continuum,’ to include strategic, political, and historical education” for young officers. Lieutenant Williams, the 1998–1999 recipient of the Naval Historical Center’s Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison Naval History Scholarship, observed that such preparation would “round out junior officers’ early education, so that they will regard their chosen profession as more than just preventive maintenance, preflight checks, and inspections.” We fully support Lieutenant Williams’ objectives. Indeed, it is our view that naval personnel of all ranks would benefit from such as program.

        To support the worthy goal of enhancing professional development in the U.S. Navy, a vital aspect of the Naval Historical Center’s mission, we have posted the Professional Readings in U.S. Naval History. The professional naval historians at the Center consider the works identified in this annotated compilation to be the most useful books readily available on the rich history of the United States Navy. But we expect the Professional Readings in U.S. Naval History to be a flexible, ever-changing compilation. As new and worthy books are published, they will be added to the Readings and less useful works dropped. In that regard, we encourage our readers to share their views with us on the scholarship, relevance, and overall importance of the works cited and perhaps suggest alternative titles or categories. To register your views, please contact our Senior Historian, Phone: (202) 433-3940; FAX (202) 433-3593.

        I am hopeful, with the inauguration of our Professional Readings in U.S. Naval History and other similar efforts underway throughout the Navy Department, that our American Sailors will use these tools to strengthen their intellectual skills for productive careers in the service of the United States Navy and the Nation.

       William S. Dudley
        Director of Naval History


It is vitally important for the future of the U.S. Navy that those who serve constantly strive to improve their professional skills, educational preparation, and understanding of the national and international environment in which the naval service operates. To help advance that process, the Director of Naval History encourages all hands to take advantage of the following Professional Readings in U.S. Naval History, a compilation that identifies what we consider to be the most useful books written about the proud history of the U.S. Navy. The specific purposes of the Professional Readings in U.S. Naval History are to

—enhance appreciation among naval personnel of the vital importance that moral and physical courage, honor, integrity, and dedication to duty have been to the Navy and the nation;

—highlight the central role played by the men and women who have served in our Navy since its establishment in 1775;

—shed light on the qualities of leadership that are as relevant today as they were when John Paul Jones, David Farragut, Chester Nimitz, Grace Hopper, and Stanley Arthur made their mark on naval history;

—increase understanding of the special characteristics of naval warfare and the strategy, tactics, and doctrine of sea power;

—enhance understanding of how technology, science, and industry have influenced the development of the ships, aircraft, and weapons operated by the Navy;

—familiarize personnel with the Navy’s contribution to victory in war and the maintenance of peace throughout our more than two centuries as a nation; and

—foster greater appreciation of the U.S. Navy’s unique heritage, traditions, culture, and history.

        For the sake of brevity, the Professional Readings in U.S. Naval History identifies only those works that relate directly to the U.S. Navy, but we encourage all personnel to acquire reading lists prepared by the other U.S. armed services that emphasize the importance of the joint mission.

The Professional Readings in U.S. Naval History is presented in two parts:

        Part I, Selected Readings, identifies 20 books that we consider the best in terms of their accuracy and balance, relevance, readability, moderate size, modern format, visual appeal, and availability at a reasonable price through commercial publishers or the Government Printing Office (using the GPO stock number provided, readers may obtain books from GPO by phone (202) 512-1800 or FAX (202) 512-2250).

        Part II, Further Readings, offers selections for those interested in obtaining more information on particular subjects. This section identifies classic studies, histories, and other works that may or may not still be in print but can be obtained at public and university libraries, as well as through interlibrary loan channels. Although it contains many titles, the section identifies only the best works from among thousands of published books available on the Navy.