Navy Reading ListReading Lists

2020 Navy Reading List

The CNO’s Official Reading list just received some minor updates this winter. Coming in at 142 books it is the longest reading of all the four services. If you don’t think you can get through all 142 books before the next list comes out, the 15 books on the cannon would be a good place to start.  

Unfortunately, the most direct option for ordering the Navy Reading list, ordering from the Naval War College, is no longer available. Previously the War College had received  funding to send Navy commands a complete library of the Navy’s reading list; however, that funding expired a few years ago. Until the Navy reinstates this funding, commands remain responsible for acquiring the Navy Reading List on their own

For those interested in ordering these books below are 7 options to make your supply officers job just a little bit easier, and your command just a little bit smarter:

  1. Operation Paperback:  While Operations Paperback does attempt to supply books on the Navy Reading List, they rely on book donations for their distribution. This makes it very hard to “special request” specific books. However, as stated on the Operation Paperback’s website they will attempt to fulfill an order of books from the Navy’s reading list. The form for requesting books can be found here.
  2. Books-A-Million Books to Troops Program: Books-A-Million has partnered with Reach out and Read to provide books to veterans, children and overseas service members.   For individuals or commands serving overseas requests can be submitted directly to
  3. Amazon: While Amazon holds the largest inventory of books around they only hold ready access to approx. 110 books on the Navy’s reading list. The remainder of the books are either out of print or fulfilled by other vendors. If you do choose to purchase from Amazon please consider purchasing through my Navy Reading List page, I have conveniently included links for all the books and will receive a small affiliate commission to help run this website.
  4. Naval War College:  As of this writing the Navy War College no longer has a contract to supply the Navy reading list. But if/when this changes they can be contacted via phone or e-mail here.
  5. US Naval Institute: The USNI has a number of Navy specific reading lists to include a Junior Officer reading list, Commanders reading list and publish a monthly professional naval magazine Proceedings.
  6. For Marine Corps Commands, The Marine Corps Association has a Unit Library program which will provide Marine Corps units with select books from the USMC reading list at no cost to the individual or the command. 
  7. DOD Reads:  If none of the above options meet your needs the Army, Navy, Air Force, USMC and Coast Guard reading list can be purchased directly from us. DOD Reads can process online purchases, quotes, and for larger purchases we accept payments through Contracting / SAM.   We also reinvest our profits into connecting military leaders with reading that challenges.

The 2020 Navy Reading List

The Cannon

  1. Common Sense by Thomas Paine
  2. The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton
  3. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
  4. Enchiridion by Epictetus
  5. Masters of War: Classical Strategic Thought by Michael I. Handel
  6. Strategy: The Classic Book on Military Strategy by B. H. Liddell Hart
  7. Military Strategy: A General Theory of Power Control by J. C. Wylie
  8. The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War by Robert B. Strassler
  9. The U.S. Constitution by James Madison
  10. The Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson
  11. The Influence of Sea Power on History by A. T. Mahan
  12. Makers of Modern Strategy: From Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age by Peter Paret
  13. Principles of Maritime Strategy by Julian S. Corbett
  14. The Art of War by Sun Tzu
  15. On War by Carl Von Clausewitz

Partner Network

  1. Safe Passage by Kori Schake
  2. A World In Disarray by Richard Haass
  3. Asia’s Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific by Robert D. Kaplan
  4. The Paradox of American Power, Why the World’s Only Superpower Can’t Go it Alone by Joseph S. Nye Jr.
  5. On China by Henry Kissinger
  6. Partnerships for the Americas by James G. Stavridis
  7. World Order by Henry Kissinger
  8. The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate by Robert D.
  9. The Grand Chessboard by Zbigniew Brzezinski
  10. Value: The Four Cornerstones of Corporate Finance by Tim Koller, Richard Dobbs, Bill Huyett

Core Attributes

  1. Nudge by Richard Thaler & Cass R. Sunstein
  2. Dare to Lead by Brené Brown
  3. Democracy by Condoleezza Rice
  4. Warriors and Citizens by Kori Schake & Jim Mattis
  5. Make Your Bed by Admiral William H. McRaven
  6. The Anatomy of Courage by Lord Moran
  7. Giving Voice to Values by Mary C. Gentile
  8. The 7 Signs of Ethical Collapse by Marianne M. Jennings

Navy Team

  1. Humility is the New Smart by Edward Hess
  2. Service: A Navy SEAL at War by Marcus Luttrell and James D. Hornfischer
  3. The Accidental Admiral, A Sailor Takes Command at NATO by James Stavridis
  4. Teams of Teams, New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World by Stanley McChrystal
  5. Navigating the Seven Seas by Melvin G. Williams
  6. Start With Why, How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek
  7. One Hundred Days: The Memoirs of the Falklands Battle Group Commander by Sandy Woodward and Patrick Robinson
  8. Leaders Eat Last, Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek
  9. A Vietnam Experience, Ten Years of Reflection by James B. Stockdale
  10. Thoughts of a Philosophical Fighter Pilot by Jim Stockdale
  11. The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk
  12. In Love and War by Jim and Sybil Stockdale
  13. Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger
  14. At Ease: Stories I Tell to Friends by Dwight D. Eisenhower
  15. Grant: Personal Memoirs and Selected Letters of Ulysses S. Grant by Ulysses S. Grant
  16. His Excellency, George Washington by Joseph J. Ellis
  17. Other Clay: A Remembrance of the World War II Infantry by Charles R. Cawthon
  18. The Last Warrior by Andrew F. Krepinevich and Barry D. Watts
  19. The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki

High Velocity Outcomes

  1. 7 Deadly Scenarios: A Military Futurist Explores War in the 21st Century by Andew F. Krepinevich
  2. A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel H. Pink
  3. Blackett’s War: The Men Who Defeated the Nazi U-Boats and Brought Science to the Art of Warfare by Stephen Budiansky
  4. Drift into Failure: From Hunting Broken Components to Understanding Complex Systems by Sidney Dekker
  5. Envisioning Information by Edward R. Tufte
  6. Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan
  7. Grand Strategies in War and Peace by Paul Kennedy
  8. High-Velocity Edge: How Market Leaders Leverage Operational Excellence by Steven J. Spear
  9. Inviting Disaster: Lessons from the Edge of Technology by James R. Chiles
  10. Leading Change by John P. Kotter
  11. Learning War by Trent Hone
  12. Machine Platform Crowd by Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson
  13. Managing the Risks of Organizational Accidents by James Reason
  14. Managing the Unexpected: Resilient Performance in an Age of Uncertainty by Karl E. Weick and Kathleen M. Sutcliffe
  15. On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser
  16. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
  17. Red Team: How to Succeed by Thinking Like the Enemy by Micah Zenko
  18. Sensemaking in Organizations by Karl E. Weick
  19. Simulating War, Studying Conflict Through Simulation Games by Philip Sabin
  20. Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days by Jake Knapp
  21. Strategy, A History by Lawrence Freedman
  22. Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction by Philip E. Tetlock and Dan Gardner
  23. The Art of the Long View: Planning in an Uncertain Future by Peter Schwartz
  24. The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  25. The Book of Why by Judea Pearl and Dana Mackenzie
  26. The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande
  27. The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White
  28. The Fall of the Roman Empire by Peter Heather
  29. The Field Guide to Understanding ‘Human Error’ by Sidney Dekker
  30. The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization by Peter M. Senge
  31. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz
  32. The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book that Will Change the Way You Do Business by Clayton M. Christensen
  33. The Knowing Doing Gap by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton
  34. The Making of the Atom Bomb by Richard Rhodes
  35. The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee
  36. The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology by Ray Kurzweil
  37. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell
  38. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward R. Tufte
  39. Thinking in Time: The Uses of History for Decision Makers by Richard E. Neustadt and Ernest R. May
  40. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Naval Power

  1. 1812: The Navy’s War by George C. Daughan
  2. Chesty by Jon T. Hoffman
  3. Crusade in Europe: A Personal Account of World War II by Dwight D. Eisenhower
  4. Empires of the Sea by Roger Crowley
  5. England in the Seven Years’ War: A Study in Combined Strategy by Julian S. Corbett
  6. Execute Against Japan, The U.S. Decision to Conduct Unrestricted Submarine Warfare by Joel Ira Holwitt
  7. Fighting Talk: Forty Maxims on War, Peace, and Strategy by Colin S. Gray
  8. First to Fight: An Inside View of the U.S. Marine Corps by Victor H. Krulak
  9. Fleet Tactics by Wayne Hughes and Robert Girrier
  10. Forgotten Warriors by Thomas Hammes
  11. Freedom’s Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in the World War II by Arthur Herman
  12. Ghost Fleet by P.W. Singer and August Cole
  13. Hold Back the Night by Pat Frank
  14. Joe Rochefort’s War: The Odyssey of the Codebreaker Who Outwitted Yamamoto at Midway by Elliot Carlson
  15. John Barry, An American Hero in the Age of Sail by Tim McGrath
  16. Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian
  17. Matterhorn, A Novel of the Vietnam War by Karl Marlantes
  18. Military Innovation in the Interwar Period by Williamson Murray and Allan R. Millett
  19. Military Readiness: Concepts, Choices, Consequences by Richard K. Betts
  20. Neptune’s Inferno by James D. Hornfischer
  21. On Grand Strategy by John Gaddis
  22. Pacific Crucible, War at Sea in the Pacific 1941-1942 by Ian W. Toll
  23. Pursuit of Victory: The Life and Achievement of Horatio Nelson by Roger Knight
  24. Red Star over the Pacific, Second Edition by Toshi Yoshihara and James R. Holmes
  25. Rickover and the Nuclear Navy, The Discipline of Technology by Francis Duncan
  26. Scales on War: The Future of America’s Military at Risk by Maj. Gen Bob Scales
  27. Sea Power by Admiral James Stavridis
  28. Seapower, A Guide for the 21st Century by Geoffrey Till
  29. Shattered Sword, The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway by Jonathan Parshall and Anthony Tully
  30. Ship of Ghosts by James D. Hornfischer
  31. Six Frigates by Ian W. Toll
  32. Technology and War: From 2000 B.C. to the Present by Martin Van Creveld
  33. The Admirals by Walter Borneman
  34. The Conquering Tide by Ian W. Toll
  35. The Face of Battle by John Keegan
  36. The Fleet at Flood Tide by James D. Hornfischer
  37. The Global Seven Years War 1754 – 1763 by Daniel A. Baugh
  38. The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors by James D. Hornfischer
  39. The Mask of Command by John Keegan
  40. The Price of Admiralty by John Keegan
  41. The Rickover Effect, The Inside Story of How Adm. Hyman Rickover Built the Nuclear Navy by Theodore Rockwell
  42. The Rules of the Game by Andrew Gordon
  43. The Two-Ocean War, A Short History of the U.S. Navy in the Second World War by Samuel Eliot Morison
  44. Toward a New Maritime Strategy by Peter D. Haynes
  45. Utmost Savagery, The Three Days of Tarawa by Joseph H. Alexander
  46. Washington’s Crossing by David Hackett Fischer
  47. Wired For War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21sr Century by P. W. Singer
  48. Yellow Smoke: The Future of Land Warfare for America’s Military by Robert H. Scales

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