• To Risk It All

  • Nine Conflicts and the Crucible of Decision
  • By: Admiral James Stavridis
  • Narrated by: Marc Cashman
  • Length: 7 hrs and 42 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (126 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From one of the great naval leaders of our time, a master class in decision-making under pressure through the stories of nine famous acts of leadership in battle, drawn from the history of the United States Navy, with outcomes both glorious and notorious

At the heart of Admiral James Stavridis’s training as a naval officer was the preparation to lead sailors in combat, to face the decisive moment in battle whenever it might arise. In To Risk It All, he offers up nine of the most useful and enthralling stories from the US Navy’s nearly 250-year history, and draws from them a set of insights that we can all put to use when confronted with fateful choices.     

Conflict. Crisis. Risk. These words have a distinct meaning in a military context that we hope will never apply identically in our own lives. But at the same time, as Admiral Stavridis shows with great clarity, many lessons are universal.  

To Risk It All is filled with thrilling and heroic exploits, but it is anything but a shallow exercise in myth burnishing. Every leader in this book has real flaws, as all humans do, and the stories of failure, or at least the decisions that have been defined as such, are as crucial as the stories of success. In the end, when this master class is concluded, we will be better armed for hard decisions both expected and not.

©2022 Admiral James Stavridis (P)2022 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

 “Stavridis imbues his evaluations of the highlighted decisions with his own wealth of knowledge and command experience in this fascinating work of military history and biography.” - Booklist

“Stavridis works hard to find common threads among his subjects, and each chapter includes insights into their characters, stressing those qualities responsible for their triumphs, which readers can put to use in their own lives. An expert in his field, the author is not shy about deploring character defects that tarnished some achievements. . . . Admiring accounts of some genuinely admirable American sailors.” - Kirkus 

“I served in the Department of Defense with Admiral Jim Stavridis and his unique ability to offer incisive insights based on history, military judgement, and risk analysis made him an invaluable member of the team. Reading To Risk It All takes us on a voyage into danger and the fast decisions that extraordinary leaders had to make under extreme pressure - it is full of lessons for anyone who aspires to lead well.” - Michèle Flournoy, Former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and Co-Founder and Managing Partner, WestExec Advisors  

What listeners say about To Risk It All

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A great book

A wonderful book that I found to be developmental and maturative for a young man coming of age such as myself. I found this book to be relatable and generally educational, and I further highly recommend this book.

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Admiral Stavridis does it again!

This is a tremendous book on leadership and decision making! The 9 stories are so compelling it’s hard to stop listening and by the end you wish there were more. This is one of the best books I have ever enjoyed! I highly recommend this book.

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Went quickly, interesting framework

You might think this only recorded heroic decisions, but you would be wrong. All kinds of decisions, good and bad, from nation-fotming to hot political topics. Good narration, and Stravidis has a systematic approach. I look forward to reading more of his stuff.

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wow. this guy is great

if you are a highly motivated individual with a sense of aggression that leads a team get this book. seriously good suggestions as well as entertaining. very well written

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Pivotal Naval decisions and their consequences

This book is about learning lessons in leadership and decision making by studying 9 pivotal events in US Naval history. Learning the details of these events makes the book interesting and worthwhile. The long-winded admonishion to consider all the facts and to not get carried away with emotion and the like were less interesting.

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Great lessons and great stories

interesting stories, I don't recall reading about naval leadership until now and the lessons on decision making are very rewarding

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Excellent

Highly recommend. Thoughtful and well researched information with conclusions about leadership and what makes a great leader. No sugar coating.

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A great leadership book by a great leader!

If you enjoy naval history and/or discussions of leadership, then this book is for you. It presents nine instances of incredibly hard choices, along with relevant background information, and the ultimate choice that was made in each situation. Sometimes the choice made was the right one, and sometimes it was the wrong one. Either way, through each critical situation, Admiral Stavridis builds suspense, takes the reader/listener through each moment, analyzes the results, and provides lessons learned. He does all of this while weaving in his own moments of hard choices, his thoughts on leadership, his vast knowledge of naval history, and his vast knowledge of naval operations. It's another great book by one of our nation's great leaders and it is a wonderful read or listen. Enjoy!

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Self promotion

While the author related tired accounts of various naval engagements he never missed an opportunity to promote his own career

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Worth reading

I saw the Admiral give an interview and decided to read his book. Good sound careful thinking and descriptions of the what people thought when it counted and lives were on the line. Helpful in so many ways.