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The Accidental Admiral  By  cover art

The Accidental Admiral

By: ADM. James Stavridis USN - Ret.
Narrated by: Bob Souer
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Publisher's Summary

After he was selected to be NATO's 16th Supreme Allied Commander, the New York Times described Jim Stavridis as a "Renaissance admiral." A US 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 51 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.

©2014 Adm. James G. Stavridis, USN (Ret.) (P)2018 Tantor

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Insider View on Complexity in Nato

Most readers will probably come to this book to learn more about the inner workings of Nato, because there are not many books on Nato, and insider accounts of its workings are scant. But it is hard to say a lot about an opaque consensus based organization with 30 member states. Stavridis described it as one of the most conservative organizations in the world as a result of its decision making process. Yet, it was hard to get a feel for how it actually makes decisions, because he never shined a spotlight on any specific decision when he was there.

The nature of the organization seems to impart a sort of structural incoherence to the book. It is a little bit lessons in leadership, commentary on a complex world, insider account of Nato, and life in naval service. This will probably leave everyone a little dissatisfied, except perhaps American military officers working in coalitions. That’s because Stavridis has a lot to say about leadership in complex shifting organizational settings. All this is fascinating, and he shares much wisdom about navigating it, but it also feels a bit random.

He generally comes across as a genial and humane man, who cares about human rights. He brings to his writings a passion for preventing human rights abuses in Libya, for instance. But his ideals are marred by his excessive praise for Israel, an apartheid state actively engaged in ethnic cleansing and colonialism. Somehow, he is able to jump from speaking about stopping human rights abuses in Libya and Syria to protecting Israel without skipping a beat, and it left this generally enthusiastic supporter of Nato wanting to expose its hypocrisy. It also left me with the sense that Stavridis may be far more of an opportunist than he let’s on. Steadfast support for Israel when they don't deserve it is a great way to get ahead in Washington, after all. So, it left me wondering what else could not be trusted in his account. Whatever the reality, officers perusing this book should be forewarned. The days when you can get away with praising serial human rights abuses while talking about protecting vulnerable populations are over.

Hopefully, as an innovative thinker, who is able to look within and change directions fast, Stavridis will take this feedback to heart and consider how this kind of hypocrisy might hurt the goals of the organization he did such an otherwise great job of leading. That aside, he has a lot of important things to say about leadership n the twenty-first century.

~ Theo Horesh, author of The Holocausts We All Deny

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An incredible book by an incredible leader!

This book is a phenomenal look at the type of work done by NATO and the United States every day. Admiral Stavridis is a wonderful storyteller and an incredible person that has an ocean of expertise on naval and world affairs. The United States needs more leaders like him, and I hope he makes his way into politics someday. If so, the whole world would be better off! This book is an incredible read or listen for anybody!