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Mahan uses some detail and technical language to demonstrate particular naval engagements from 1660-1783, but apart from being just a lecturer on naval warfare and an analyst on tactics, he demonstrates how the use of the general navies, or the strategy of using a strong navy to protect the fleet of an aggressive merchant marine, is the single most important root cause of advancing economic and therefore military prosperity in any nation.

Using Great Britain as his main example, he also details the Dutch fleets to demonstrate their reason for becoming a European superpower in their own right. Later he identifies the presence of the French navy, apart from any material success in its engagements, as one of the determining reasons why America had a chance to win its independence. Finally, as he hints of the supreme commercial and military importance of the proposed (Panama) canal, against the declining state of the American navy and the paltry condition of its merchant fleet, he urges that Americas prosperity if not survival depends on the powerful revival of its sea power.

In this book, U.S. Navy Captain Alfred T. Mahan presents what he considers the six key elements of sea power and shows the impact their application or misapplication has had on history. Citing numerous historical examples, he shows how nations have prospered or suffered through use or misuse of their naval assets. His book is rightfully considered essential reading for any historian of naval warfare. However, its impact does not stop there.

Mahan shows how nations thrived or declined during the 17th and 18th centuries through prudent or imprudent application of naval power. He contends France, Holland, Spain, et al. prospered until they allowed their naval power to dissipate. Meanwhile, Britain became mistress of the seas. British colonies provided raw materials for her industries, while her armed fleet insured uninterrupted commerce. He equates Britains loss of her American colonies with inappropriate deployment of her fleet, contrasted with Frances skilled strategic use of her own. This section will interest readers of American history schooled only on Washingtons land campaign at Yorktown.

Mahans book has had a tremendous impact on history. It unquestionably shaped the imperialistic policies of pre-World War I and pre-World War II Germany and Japan respectively. Students trying to ascertain why leaders of those nations acted as they did should read this work.

The elements of sea power are the same today as in 1900 when this book was first published. With a world economy as interdependent as todays, Mahans principles are as valid as they were in the 1600s and 1700s, perhaps even more so. German war philosopher, Carl von Clausewitzs classic treatise, On War, is considered a must read for every Army officer. Mahans work is to the sea-battle as von Clausewitzs is to the land. Historians, military strategists, and architects of Americas foreign, economic and national security policies should read this important work to gain insights on the necessity of protecting vital and vulnerable sea lines of communications worldwide.

An excellent read, a great general history book, and very lucid explanations, easy for the layman. If you enjoy history youll enjoy this.

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