100 books like Sea Power

By E.B. Potter,

Here are 100 books that Sea Power fans have personally recommended if you like Sea Power. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Moby-Dick

Jonathan Howland Author Of Native Air

From my list on books about men in love (who aren’t lovers).

Why am I passionate about this?

During a lonely stretch of primary school, I recall discussing my predicament with my mother. “You only need one friend,” she said by way of encouragement. Some part of me agreed. I’ve been fortunate to have had (and to have) several friends in my life, never more than a few at a time, more men than women, and each has prompted me to be and become more vital and spacious than I was prior to knowing them. The books I’m recommending—and the one I wrote—feature these types of catalyzing, life-changing relationships. Each involves some kind of adventure. Each evokes male friendship that is gravitational, not merely influential, but life-defining.

Jonathan's book list on books about men in love (who aren’t lovers)

Jonathan Howland Why did Jonathan love this book?

It centers on and celebrates becoming—molting from one skin to another. For Ishmael this is a transition from a tired and limiting worldview to something fresh and alive.

The “bosom buddies” at the heart of the novel, Ishmael and Queequeg, seem comprised of opposites, but Ishmael’s etherealizing is grounded by Queequeg’s pragmatic ingenuity in ways that quiet and expand the young pagan-Presbyterian’s buzzing, anxious mind. Theirs is a friendship of succor, probably sex, and survival—all of it shadowed by the delusional obsessions of their mad captain.

By Herman Melville,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked Moby-Dick as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Melville's tale of the whaling industry, and one captain's obsession with revenge against the Great White Whale that took his leg. Classics Illustrated tells this wonderful tale in colourful comic strip form, offering an excellent introduction for younger readers. This edition also includes a biography of Herman Melville and study questions, which can be used both in the classroom or at home to further engage the reader in the work at hand.


Book cover of Sailing Alone Around the World

James G. Stavridis Author Of The Sailor's Bookshelf: Fifty Books to Know the Sea

From my list on to know the sea.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a retired 4-star Admiral who spent over forty years at sea, rising from Midshipman at the Naval Academy to Supreme Allied Commander at NATO. I studied literature and published eleven books, many dealing with the oceans. My PhD from Tufts University, where I served as Dean of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, centered on the Law of the Sea Treaty. My father was a seagoing US Marine, my wife grew up in the Navy with a father who was a Navy pilot, and my daughter was a Navy nurse. Finally, my basset hound is named Penelope, after the wife of Ulysses who waited for her husband to return from ten years at sea.

James' book list on to know the sea

James G. Stavridis Why did James love this book?

One of the great pure sailors of all time was Joshua Slocum. Born in 1844 in eastern Canada he remains one of the most renowned sailors of all time—deservedly, because he completed the first documented circumnavigation of the world alone in a sailboat. A severe-looking man in maturity with a completely bald head and a very full goatee. His four children were born at sea on his ships. And his adventures literally around the world are too numerous to enumerate here. Suffice to say, this was a man “rocked in the cradle of the deep,” with saltwater in his veins.

Toward the turn of the century, in his early fifties, he decided to build a small sailing vessel and sail alone around the world. It was the seminal moment in his life, and he’d describe it beautifully in this marvelous tale. Slocum faced all the perils one would expect: terrible…

By Joshua Slocum,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Sailing Alone Around the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The classic of its kind." —Travel World
"One of the most readable books in the whole library of adventure." —Sports Illustrated
"The finest single-handed adventure story yet written." —Seafarer
Challenged by an expert who said it couldn't be done, Joshua Slocum, an indomitable New England sea captain, set out in April of 1895 to prove that a man could sail alone around the world. 46,000 miles and a little over 3 years later, the proof was complete: Captain Slocum had performed the epic "first" single-handedly in a trusty 34-foot sloop called the "Spray." This is Slocum's own account of his…


Book cover of Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty Island I Have Not Visited and Never Will

James G. Stavridis Author Of The Sailor's Bookshelf: Fifty Books to Know the Sea

From my list on to know the sea.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a retired 4-star Admiral who spent over forty years at sea, rising from Midshipman at the Naval Academy to Supreme Allied Commander at NATO. I studied literature and published eleven books, many dealing with the oceans. My PhD from Tufts University, where I served as Dean of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, centered on the Law of the Sea Treaty. My father was a seagoing US Marine, my wife grew up in the Navy with a father who was a Navy pilot, and my daughter was a Navy nurse. Finally, my basset hound is named Penelope, after the wife of Ulysses who waited for her husband to return from ten years at sea.

James' book list on to know the sea

James G. Stavridis Why did James love this book?

This fascinating little gem of a book is concerned with tiny, largely unknown islands scattered around the world. Schalansky essentially selected them largely for how far they are from big, continental lands. Even after spending a significant portion of my life at sea, I can only claim to have visited or even sailed within sight of about a dozen of them. Most of these small atolls are far from their mother countries. But each of these isolated islands has a story that is inextricably tied to the sea.

By Judith Schalansky,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Atlas of Remote Islands as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Judith Schalansky was born in 1980 on the wrong side of the Berlin Wall. The Soviets wouldn't let anyone travel so everything she learnt about the world came from her parents' battered old atlas. An acclaimed novelist and award-winning graphic designer, she has spent years creating this, her own imaginative atlas of the world's loneliest places. These islands are so difficult to reach that until the late 1990s more people had set foot on the moon than on Peter I Island in the Antarctic.

On one page are perfect maps, on the other unfold bizarre stories from the history of…


Book cover of The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial

James G. Stavridis Author Of To Risk It All: Nine Conflicts and the Crucible of Decision

From my list on to help you make decisions under extreme pressure.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a retired 4-star Admiral who spent over forty years at sea, rising from Midshipman at the Naval Academy to Supreme Allied Commander at NATO. Along the way, I served in and commanded destroyers, cruisers, and aircraft carriers in combat, and I have faced many very difficult decisions under extreme pressure. In addition, I’ve been in the Pentagon for many assignments, including as Senior Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense – which also created countless high-pressure decisions. What I learned in the Navy has helped me again and again in calculating risk and making the right decisions. 

James' book list on to help you make decisions under extreme pressure

James G. Stavridis Why did James love this book?

A novel about a rusty old destroyer minesweeper, a supremely difficult captain, a mixed bag officers in a dysfunctional wardroom, a horrific typhoon, and a nail-biting court-martial. The seagoing and combat portions of the novel are very realistic, reflecting Wouk’s time in uniform on a similar class of ship in the Pacific during WWII. In my hand as I write this is a battered 1951 first edition of the novel, with a slightly tattered cover, which I treasure above almost any book in the five thousand volumes in my personal library. Over the years of my career, I’ve returned again and again to The Caine Mutiny, and the fundamental lesson of this sea novel is what both leaders and followers owe each other, especially in the demanding crucible of the sea.

By Herman Wouk,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The novel that inspired the now-classic film The Caine Mutiny and the hit Broadway play The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial.

Herman Wouk's boldly dramatic, brilliantly entertaining novel of life—and mutiny—on a Navy warship in the Pacific theater was immediately embraced, upon its original publication in 1951, as one of the first serious works of American fiction to grapple with the moral complexities and the human consequences of World War II. In the intervening half century, The Caine Mutiny has become a perennial favorite of readers young and old, has sold millions of copies throughout the world, and has achieved the status…


Book cover of All the Boats on the Ocean: How Government Subsidies Led to Global Overfishing

Thomas Blake Earle Author Of The Liberty to Take Fish: Atlantic Fisheries and Federal Power in Nineteenth-Century America

From my list on why the history of the ocean matters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I think about the ocean a lot. Teaching in Galveston, Texas, at a university less than a mile from the ocean means it's on my mind most of the time. And it's not just the fish! I’m fascinated by all things ocean and have spent my career trying to understand the place of the watery world in the history of the United States. From fishing in the North Atlantic, to the history of the U.S. Navy, and even surfing on the Gulf Coast my writing, not to mention reading, usually points to the coast and beyond.

Thomas' book list on why the history of the ocean matters

Thomas Blake Earle Why did Thomas love this book?

Why do we overfish? A question simply stated but complex to answer is the central focus of much of Carmel Finley’s writing.

Finley, a journalist turned historian, points to the geopolitical imperatives of the Cold War to understand why, during the middle decades of the twentieth century, fishing emerged as a global industry with technologically sophisticated fishing vessels ranging across the world’s oceans.

While they ostensibly sought fish, these vessels expanded state power. They were built and operated by lavish subsidies from governments seeking to exert greater and greater control over the seas.

From the United States, to Japan, Iceland, the Soviet Union, and Samoa, Finley’s work spans the globe to explain the industrialization and modernization of fishing.

By Carmel Finley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All the Boats on the Ocean as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Most current fishing practices are neither economically nor biologically sustainable. Every year, the world spends $80 billion buying fish that cost $105 billion to catch, even as heavy fishing places growing pressure on stocks that are already struggling with warmer, more acidic oceans. How have we developed an industry that is so wasteful, and why has it been so difficult to alter the trajectory toward species extinction? In this transnational, interdisciplinary history, Carmel Finley answers these questions and more as she explores how government subsidies propelled the expansion of fishing from a coastal, in-shore activity into a global industry. While…


Book cover of China's New Navy: The Evolution of PLAN from the People's Revolution to a 21st Century Cold War

James Borton Author Of Dispatches from the South China Sea: Navigating to Common Ground

From my list on dive deeply into the South China Sea territorial disputes.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a writer and waterman, I have traversed the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, setting crab pots and communing with fellow watermen who share a deep love for the estuary. I honor their livelihoods by responsibly harvesting blue crabs and oysters. My field notes have taken me beyond the Chesapeake, onto Hilton Head shrimping boats, onto the oyster beds in Bull's Bay in South Carolina, and into the contested South China Sea aboard Vietnamese fishing trawlers.

James' book list on dive deeply into the South China Sea territorial disputes

James Borton Why did James love this book?

The author’s first-hand interviews with the subjects, naval officers, crews, sailors, and naval pilots offered a front-row seat for me as a reader. Li brings China’s naval operations into a clear view and offers an insightful perspective on their navy’s operations in the South China Sea.

In short, he brings China’s naval history alive and offers us a better understanding of the current standoff between Washington and Beijing. I recommend it to anyone who wants a clear and unwavering picture of the evolving military balance in the Indo-Pacific region.

By Xiaobing Li,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked China's New Navy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A survey of Chinese naval operational history, Li's book focuses on the major battles and important engagements of more than 1,200 Chinese naval operations from 1949-2009, including the joint landing campaigns in the Taiwan Strait Crises, naval battles in the South China Sea, air defense against American pilots during Operation Rolling Thunder, and anti-piracy operations in Africa. His findings elucidate the origin of and changes of the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) by examining its adaptation, modernization, and setbacks in the past sixty years.

Based upon newly available Chinese sources and personal interviews with retired generals, admirals, and PLA officers,…


Book cover of With Sails Whitening Every Sea: Mariners and the Making of an American Maritime Empire

Stephen Tuffnell Author Of Made in Britain: Nation and Emigration in Nineteenth-Century America

From my list on the USA and the world in the nineteenth century.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of the United States' global pasts. What excites me most in both research and teaching is approaching familiar topics from unconventional angles whether through unfamiliar objects or comparative perspectives. To do so I have approached the US past from the perspective of its emigrants and the global history of gold rushes, and am doing so now in two projects: one on the ice trade and another on the United States’ imperial relationship with Africa between the Diamond Rush of 1867 and the First World War. I currently teach at the University of Oxford where I am a Fellow in History at St Peter’s College.

Stephen's book list on the USA and the world in the nineteenth century

Stephen Tuffnell Why did Stephen love this book?

It’s not possible to understand the United States without understanding its maritime past. Rouleau takes us onto the forecastle to show just how important US mariners were (how could they not be when 100,00 departed the republic each year?) in a vivid account with lots of surprising details drawn from scrimshaw and logbooks. These working-class diplomats shaped the foreign perception of the United States in port cities around the world through their (often violent) encounters with foreign peoples, their onshore carousing, and their spread of black face minstrelsy around the globe.

By Brian Rouleau,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked With Sails Whitening Every Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Many Americans in the Early Republic era saw the seas as another field for national aggrandizement. With a merchant marine that competed against Britain for commercial supremacy and a whaling fleet that circled the globe, the United States sought a maritime empire to complement its territorial ambitions in North America. In With Sails Whitening Every Sea, Brian Rouleau argues that because of their ubiquity in foreign ports, American sailors were the principal agents of overseas foreign relations in the early republic. Their everyday encounters and more problematic interactions-barroom brawling, sexual escapades in port-city bordellos, and the performance of blackface minstrel…


Book cover of U.S. Naval Power in the 21st Century: A New Strategy for Facing the Chinese and Russian Threat

James Borton Author Of Dispatches from the South China Sea: Navigating to Common Ground

From my list on dive deeply into the South China Sea territorial disputes.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a writer and waterman, I have traversed the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, setting crab pots and communing with fellow watermen who share a deep love for the estuary. I honor their livelihoods by responsibly harvesting blue crabs and oysters. My field notes have taken me beyond the Chesapeake, onto Hilton Head shrimping boats, onto the oyster beds in Bull's Bay in South Carolina, and into the contested South China Sea aboard Vietnamese fishing trawlers.

James' book list on dive deeply into the South China Sea territorial disputes

James Borton Why did James love this book?

I like this book because the author’s writing is cogent and clear. It has helped inform my own views about maritime strategy. More importantly, I admire the way the author blends military, economic, and technical insights in addressing the challenges America faces in the South China Sea.

The author, Droste Sadler, successfully tells me that the U.S. is most ill-prepared for the competition we are facing from China. He effectively sounds the alarm that we are at an inflection point, and we need to become more competitive now before it is too late.

By Brent Droste Sadler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked U.S. Naval Power in the 21st Century as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This nation's Cold War and Global War on Terror defense structures need an update. U.S. Naval Power in the 21st Century provides such a framework for the changed world we live in, offering a detailed roadmap that shows how the United States can field a war-winning fleet that can also compete aggressively in peacetime against dangerous competitors unlike any the nation has faced before.

Brent Sadler presents a compelling new strategy and organizing approach that he calls naval statecraft, which acknowledges the centrality and importance of the maritime domain. While similar in scale and scope to Cold War containment strategies…


Book cover of The Official Chronology of the U.S. Navy in World War II

William L. McGee Author Of The Solomons Campaigns, 1942-1943: From Guadalcanal to Bougainville, Pacific War Turning Point

From my list on World War II in the Pacific.

Why am I passionate about this?

William L. McGee is an award-winning World War II Pacific war historian. His writing career has spanned six decades — three of them in marketing and sales in the broadcasting industry. He is a WWII veteran of the Pacific theater and an atomic veteran of Operation Crossroads, the postwar atomic bomb tests at the Bikini Atoll in 1946.

William's book list on World War II in the Pacific

William L. McGee Why did William love this book?

Published in 2000, this reference book makes previous chronologies of the Navy at war out-of-date. My co-author and wife, Sandra McGee, uses this chronology to create social media posts, such as “On this day…” or “75 Years Ago Today…”.

By Robert J. Cressman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Official Chronology of the U.S. Navy in World War II as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ten years after the close of World War II, the U.S. Navy published achronology of its operations in the war. Long out of print, the work focused onwhat were then defined as critical and decisive events. It ignored a multitudeof combat actions as well as the loss or damage of many types of U.S. shipsand craft-particularly auxiliaries, amphibious ships, and district craft-andentirely omitted the U.S. submarine campaign against Japanese shipping, Thisgreatly expanded and updated study, now available in paperback with anindex, goes far beyond the original work, drawing on information from morethan forty additional years of historical research and writing.…


Book cover of The Two-Ocean War: A Short History of the United States Navy in the Second World War

Barrett Tillman Author Of When the Shooting Stopped: August 1945

From my list on WWII aircraft carrier operations in the Pacific.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like all Boomers, I grew up in the shadow of “The War.” My parents, relatives, and others participated in World War II to various extents; all were affected by it. Therefore, I absorbed the Pacific Theater early on. My father trained as a naval aviator, and among my early TV memories is the 1950s series Victory at Sea. My mother coaxed me early on, and an aunt was an English teacher, so I began learning to read before kindergarten. In retrospect, that gave me extra time to start absorbing the emerging literature. Much later I helped restore and flew WW II aircraft, leading to my first book.

Barrett's book list on WWII aircraft carrier operations in the Pacific

Barrett Tillman Why did Barrett love this book?

President Franklin Roosevelt commissioned Harvard historian Samuel Eliot Morison to write the definitive history of the U.S. Navy in WW II, and Morison produced an epic 15-volume series between 1947 and 1962. 

Despite more recent research it is richly detailed, elegantly written, and remains a standard source. The Two-Ocean War, Morison’s 1963 one-volume condensation covering all theaters of operations, was among the books that piqued my interest in the subject. It is particularly valuable in describing the Pacific island campaigns as well as the war at sea.

By Samuel Eliot Morison,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Two-Ocean War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Originally published in 1963, this classic, single-volume history draws on Morison's definitive 15-volume History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. More than a condensation, The Two-Ocean War highlights the major components of the larger work: the preparation for war, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the long war of attrition between submarines and convoys in the Atlantic, the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway, the long grind of Guadalcanal, the leapfrogging campaigns among the Pacific islands, the invasion of continental Europe, the blazes of glory at Leyte and Okinawa, and the final grudging surrender of the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the United States Navy, the Napoleonic Wars, and presidential biography?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the United States Navy, the Napoleonic Wars, and presidential biography.

The United States Navy Explore 34 books about the United States Navy
The Napoleonic Wars Explore 66 books about the Napoleonic Wars
Presidential Biography Explore 19 books about presidential biography