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Oceans Ventured: Winning the Cold War at Sea Hardcover – Illustrated, June 5, 2018
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A thrilling story of the Cold War, told by a former navy secretary on the basis of recently declassified documents.
When Ronald Reagan took office in January 1981, the United States and NATO were losing the Cold War. The USSR had superiority in conventional weapons and manpower in Europe, and had embarked on a massive program to gain naval preeminence. But Reagan already had a plan to end the Cold War without armed conflict.
Reagan led a bipartisan Congress to restore American command of the seas by building the navy back to six hundred major ships and fifteen aircraft carriers. He adopted a bold new strategy to deploy the growing fleet to northern waters around the periphery of the Soviet Union and demonstrate that the NATO fleet could sink Soviet submarines, defeat Soviet bomber and missile forces, and strike aggressively deep into the Soviet homeland if the USSR attacked NATO in Central Europe. New technology in radars, sensors, and electronic warfare made ghosts of American submarines and surface fleets. The United States proved that it could effectively operate carriers and aircraft in the ice and storms of Arctic waters, which no other navy had attempted. The Soviets, suffocated by this naval strategy, were forced to bankrupt their economy trying to keep pace. Shortly thereafter the Berlin Wall fell, and the USSR disbanded.
In Oceans Ventured, John Lehman reveals for the first time the untold story of the naval operations that played a major role in winning the Cold War.
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― Senator John McCain
"Everything an important book should be. It is lean yet detailed, dramatic yet without hyperbole, and the lesson it teaches is something the public and the entire Washington policy community should internalize: that the projection of military power, done responsibly, leads to the projection of a nation's values. And when it comes to military power, the greatest weapon the United States had during the Cold War and today is its Navy."
― Robert D. Kaplan, author of The Revenge of Geography and The Return of Marco Polo's World
"In 1981, in the end game of the Cold War, the Soviet Union woke up one day to find the United States Navy on its doorstep, ready to strike. The man behind this stunning show of sea power was the Secretary of the Navy, John Lehman. A modern-day Teddy Roosevelt, Lehman not only sent the fleet into enemy waters, he sailed with it―flying off carriers in the back seat of a warplane. A fascinating, eye-opening tale of l’audace! L’audace! Toujours, l’audace!"
― Evan Thomas, author of The War Lovers, John Paul Jones, and Sea of Thunder
"This book should be acquired by the tens of thousands of my fellow Sailors who served at sea during [the late Cold War]… Lehman makes a valuable contribution to the yet-to-be-written definitive account of this era. Oceans Ventured also serves as an important reminder of the importance of sea power in the contemporary world."
― David F. Winkler, Ph. D., Naval Historical Foundation
"Lehman’s book is…a validation of the axiom that if you want peace, prepare for war."
― George Will, National Review
"This book is solid history of a resurgent Navy...Lehman's words are essential to understanding the Navy's role and performance during the Cold War and its contribution to the downfall of the Soviet Union."
― SEAPOWER Magazine
About the Author
- Publisher : W. W. Norton & Company; Illustrated edition (June 5, 2018)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 368 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0393254259
- ISBN-13 : 978-0393254259
- Item Weight : 1.44 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #308,304 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Which is why I found this book a bit underwhelming. It's incomplete. Lehman provides a decent overview of the post-Second World War political battles that led the Navy to its nadir in the late 1940s, then an account of developments in the 1950s and 1960s. The background is pretty well laid - including the recognition of the critical decisions in the 1970s to develop a new generation of weapons that would exploit the new computer technology.
But the 1980s? What is presented is largely an account of major naval exercises. Lehman does drop some tidbits that were new to me, notably the extent to which the Navy was using terrain masking to protect ships from detection and attack...including using aircraft carriers in Norwegian fjords.
What's there is good, but it leaves out the battles in Washington that Lehman was personally involved in. Some were a bit amusing, like the attempt to get naval terms used ashore (not as silly as it sounds, it was all about engendering esprit de corps). The decision to retire Admiral Rickover. And the whole procurement world, including the genesis of the A-12 program that would come to a sad, disastrous end (for the record, I do not fault Lehman for that one). Above all, the battles over the Goldwater-Nichols "reforms"...that may well have done more harm than good, shackling the American military to a top-heavy, land-centric force structure ill-suited to the post-Cold War era.
This book desperately needs to be about three times as big, and cover everything. As it stands, it's not the full history of the Navy in the 1980s I had hoped it would be.
There is a lot of information in this book relevant to decision makers today, as well as duffer members of the civilian public like me that worry, like the author, that a navy half the size of that we had 30 years ago is inadequate to tasks we present to it short of war, and should war happen we are in deep trouble.
The author has the credibility of a man who did not just hold a politically appointed position but had the background necessary to be competent to the job of Secretary of the Navy on the first day. How many men or women in that position have flown on to a carrier as a qualified member of an A-6 Intruder crew?
It does get repetitive- Ships! Submarines! Airplanes! Cruise Missiles! Cold War! and I would not call it a masterpiece of the English language yet was ultimately worth my time.
Unfortunately I was disappointed. Several times I came close to quitting but decided to read on hoping it would become more worthy of my time. The prose ran together and was hard to follow especially in the first half of the book. The book does not present new Cold War naval strategy and tactics well other than to build the US Navy back up to 600 ships, move to an offensive mind set and operate north of the GIUK Gap (Greenland-Iceland-UK Gap) close to the Kola Peninsula. The author spends a lot of time and many pages naming well deserving naval officers in America's naval renaissance but provides little information on major topics such as the air defense of aircraft carriers hiding in Norwegian fjords and new ASW (anti-submarine warfare) technology. Unfortunately there are better books on the US Navy in the Cold War.
I recommend reading it to all citizens.
Top reviews from other countries
Just in time hat John Lehmann, langjähriger Marine-Staatssekretär unter US Präsident Reagan, sein jüngstes Buch „Oceans Ventured. Winning the Cold War at Sea“ veröffentlicht und dieses dezidiert den Operateuren der U.S. Navy gewidmet. Lehmann war nicht nur treibende Kraft hinter der Entwicklung der Naval Strategy von Navy und Marines und mit ihr der 600 Schiffe Marine, sondern vor allem auch Treiber und Unterstützer für offensive Operationen gegen die sowjetische Marine im Nordflankenraum und Pazifik. Diese hat unter Admiral Gorschkow gezeigt, dass sie zu weltumspannenden Operationen gegen die USA und NATO fähig war.
Lehmann erzählt in spannenden, von Insider Wissen gespickten Episoden, über die Entwicklung der neuen Marinestrategie, die mit Kriegsspielen und neu konzipierten Übungen ab 1981 in ersten Schritten realisiert wurde, bevor sie 1986 erstmalig in einer offenen Version veröffentlicht wurde. Grundgedanke war ein offensiver Einsatz von Seestreitkräften in die Tiefe des Raumes bis vor die Küsten der Sowjetunion. Manöver wie Ocean Venture `81, Bold Guard `82, United Effort `83, Ocean Safari `83, Ocean Safari `85, NORPAC und Northern Wedding `86 sind gewählte Beispiele, die auch vielen deutschen Marineoffizieren ein Begriff sind. Das Eindringen amerikanischer Angriffs-U-Boote in die Barents See, die von sowjetischen Streitkräften nie aufgeklärten Einsätze von Trägergestützten Marinefliegern aus den norwegischen Fjorden, die umfassenden NATO Operationen in Norwegen See, Atlantik und Mittelmeer sowie Marineoperationen vor Wladiwostok und Nord Pazifik wurden zum Signal der Entschlossenheit zur Einhegung sowjetischen Machtstrebens. Die Absetzung von Admiral Gorschkow, der Rückzug sowjetischer Seestreitkräfte in heimatnahe Gewässer zum Schutz ihrer strategischen U-Boote wurde zum Anfang des Endes des Kalten Krieges und der Sowjetunion.
Lehmann beschreibt Politik und operatives, maritimes Denken vom Feinsten. Ein Muss für alle maritim Interessierten.