As someone who reads a lot of books on naval history , many of them like this one provided by the Naval Historical Institute so that I can read them for other people interested in naval history, I often find it curious that my interests are not merely in the hard power that comes from combat, but in the soft power that comes from influence. For a military who is facing the need for retrenchment, and which wants to maintain relevance even among those who are not particularly militaristic by nature or inclination, this book represents a serious attempt, by an official government publication from the Naval War College no less, at demonstrating some of the uses of naval power without the use of naval force. Consider this an effort at the highest levels of the American naval establishment to demonstrate the use of naval assets in ways that do not equate with armed conflict with other nations, mostly by the United States navy but also by other navies. Having received this book today, a book so new and so obscure that I had to add it on Goodreads so that I could count it for my annual challenge of books to read this year, I look forward to reading and reviewing it soon, even if it likely that there have not been many copies of this book made.
Although the book comes in at a modest length of slightly more than 200 pages if one includes the book’s copious endnotes at the end of various case studies as well as the index at the end of the book as a whole, the materials in it are promising in depth and the book was probably given the modest length it was to encourage its reading audience of decision makers to take the time to read it when they may not have read a larger collection that was more demanding in its length. That said, the book’s various case studies make a clear attempt to appeal to audiences that are not prone to support jingoistic policies and gunboat wars, including material about the following situations: interdiction of the slave trade, overwhelming force to encourage mediation and arbitration efforts in diplomacy, humanitarian relief of starvation during World War I and in the South China Sea after Vietnam, embargoes, use of derelict vessels as artificial reefs, responsible stewardship of the seas to avoid stranding whales and other sea life, environmental recovery efforts in the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon spill, antipiracy efforts by China. This is a book skillfully designed to appeal to an audience that might be considered anti-military, and will make for a promising read.
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