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As we honor Adm. Michael M. Gilday in our most recent issue of US Black Engineer, we look at books specifically chosen by Gilday that either inspired him or he deems essential for other Navy personnel to better understand and excel in their roles. For his list, Adm. Gilday separated his book selections into four categories: Readiness, capabilities, capacity, and sailors.


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Readiness (Chosen to deliver a more ready fleet. A Navy that is manned, trained, and equipped to deploy forward and win in day-to-day competition, in crisis, and in conflict. We will consistently complete maintenance on time and in full, refurbish our critical readiness infrastructure, master all-domain fleet operations, and exercise with like-minded navies to enhance our collective strength.)

“Ghost Fleet” by P.W. Singer & August Cole- Ghost Fleet is a page-turning imagining of a war set in the not-too-distant future. Navy captains battle through a modern-day Pearl Harbor; fighter pilots duel with stealthy drones; teenage hackers fight in digital playgrounds; Silicon Valley billionaires mobilize for cyber-war; and a serial killer carries out her own vendetta. Ultimately, victory will depend on who can best blend the lessons of the past with the weapons of the future. But what makes the story even more notable is that every trend and technology in book—no matter how sci-fi it may seem—is real

“Red Star Over the Pacific, China’s Rise and the Challenge to U.S. Maritime Strategy” by Toshi Yoshihara & James R. Holmes- Combining a close knowledge of Asia and an ability to tap Chinese-language sources with naval combat experience and expertise in sea-power theory, the authors assess how the rise of Chinese sea power will affect U.S. maritime strategy in Asia. They argue that China is laying the groundwork for a sustained challenge to American primacy in maritime Asia, and to defend this hypothesis they look back to Alfred Thayer Mahan’s sea-power theories, now popular with the Chinese. The book considers how strategic thought about the sea shapes Beijing’s deliberations and compares China’s geostrategic predicament to that of the Kaiser’s Germany a century ago. It examines the Chinese navy s operational concepts, tactics, and capabilities and appraises China’s ballistic-missile submarine fleet. The authors conclude that unless Washington adapts, China will present a challenge to America’s strategic position.

“Mindset, The New Psychology of Success” by Carol S. Dweck- After decades of research, world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., discovered a simple but groundbreaking idea: the power of mindset. In this brilliant book, she shows how success in school, work, sports, the arts, and almost every area of human endeavor can be dramatically influenced by how we think about our talents and abilities. People with a fixed mindset—those who believe that abilities are fixed—are less likely to flourish than those with a growth mindset—those who believe that abilities can be developed. Mindset reveals how great parents, teachers, managers, and athletes can put this idea to use to foster outstanding accomplishment.

Capabilities (Chosen to deliver a more lethal, better-connected fleet. A Navy capable of projecting synchronized lethal and non-lethal effects across all domains. We will deploy the Naval Operational Architecture by the middle of this decade; an array of counter-C5ISRT capabilities, weapons of increasing range and speed, and a directed energy system capable of defeating anti-ship cruise missiles.)

“Burn-In, A Novel of the Real Robotic Revolution” by P. W. Singer & August Cole- An FBI agent hunts a new kind of terrorist through a Washington, D.C, of the future in this groundbreaking book – at once a gripping technothriller and a fact-based tour of tomorrow. America is on the brink of a revolution, one both technological and political. The science fiction of AI and robotics has finally come true, but millions are angry and fearful that the future has left them behind.

“The Fifth Domain, Defending Our Country, Our Companies, and Ourselves in the Age of Cyber Threats” by Richard A. Clark & Robert K. Knake- There is much to fear in the dark corners of cyberspace. From well-covered stories like the Stuxnet attack which helped slow Iran’s nuclear program, to lesser-known tales like EternalBlue, the 2017 cyber battle that closed hospitals in Britain and froze shipping crates in Germany in midair, we have entered an age in which online threats carry real-world consequences. But we do not have to let autocrats and criminals run amok in the digital realm. We now know a great deal about how to make cyberspace far less dangerous—and about how to defend our security, economy, democracy, and privacy from cyber attack.

“The Inevitable, Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future” by Kevin Kelly- Much of what will happen in the next thirty years is inevitable, driven by technological trends that are already in motion. In this fascinating, provocative new book, Kevin Kelly provides an optimistic road map for the future, showing how the coming changes in our lives—from virtual reality in the home to an on-demand economy to artificial intelligence embedded in everything we manufacture—can be understood as the result of a few long-term, accelerating forces. Kelly both describes these deep trends—interacting, cognifying, flowing, screening, accessing, sharing, filtering, remixing, tracking, and questioning—and demonstrates how they overlap and are codependent on one another. These larger forces will completely revolutionize the way we buy, work, learn, and communicate with each other.

Capacity (Chosen to deliver a larger, hybrid fleet. A larger, hybrid fleet of manned and unmanned platforms – under, on, and above the sea – that meets the strategic and operational demands of our force. We will deliver the Columbia-class program on time, incorporate unmanned systems into the fleet, expand our undersea advantage, and field the platforms necessary for Distributed Maritime Operations.)

“One Nation Under Drones, Legality, Morality, and Utility of Unmanned Combat Systems” by John E. Jackson- This work takes you behind the scenes and describes how Predators, Reapers, Scan Eagles, and dozens of other pilotless aircraft have been used to fight the Global War on Terrorism. Although these systems seemed to emerge fully-developed into the skies above America’s distant battlefields following the attacks of September 11, 2001, readers will discover that they actually trace their lineage to World War I, when the “automatic airplane/aerial torpedo,” designed and built by the Sperry Gyroscope Company, made its first flight just over a century ago. Unmanned aircraft were used by various combatants in World War II and took many forms: from converted manned bombers to intercontinental attacks on the American homeland by rice-paper balloons. Technology developed in the latter decades of the 20th century enabled crews stationed thousands of miles away to attack targets on remote battlefields. Such long-range and remote-controlled weapons have been extensively used but are controversial from both legal and ethical standpoints.

“Just and Unjust Wars, A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations” by Michael Walzer- From the Athenian attack on Melos to the My Lai Massacre, from the wars in the Balkans through the first war in Iraq, Michael Walzer examines the moral issues surrounding military theory, war crimes, and the spoils of war. He studies a variety of conflicts over the course of history, as well as the testimony of those who have been most directly involved—participants, decision makers, and victims. In his introduction to this new edition, Walzer specifically addresses the moral issues surrounding the war in and occupation of Iraq, reminding us once again that “the argument about war and justice is still a political and moral necessity.”

“The Future of Violence, Robots and Germs, Hackers and Drones” by Benjamin Wittes and Gabriella Blum- The ability to inflict pain and suffering on large groups of people is no longer limited to the nation-state. New technologies are putting enormous power into the hands of individuals across the world—a shift that, for all its sunny possibilities, entails enormous risk for all of us, and may even challenge the principles on which the modern nation state is founded. In short, if our national governments can no longer protect us from harm, they will lose their legitimacy. Detailing the challenges that states face in this new world, legal scholars Benjamin Wittes and Gabriella Blum controversially argue in that national governments must expand their security efforts to protect the lives and liberty of their citizens.

Sailors (Chosen to develop a Seasoned Team of Naval Warriors. A dominant naval force that can outthink and outfight any adversary. Our Sailors will remain the best trained and educated force in the world. We will cultivate a culture of warfighting excellence rooted in our core values.)

“How To Be an Anti-Racist” by Ibram X. Kendi- Antiracism is a transformative concept that reorients and reenergizes the conversation about racism—and, even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. At its core, racism is a powerful system that creates false hierarchies of human value; its warped logic extends beyond race, from the way we regard people of different ethnicities or skin colors to the way we treat people of different sexes, gender identities, and body types. Racism intersects with class and culture and geography and even changes the way we see and value ourselves. In How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi takes readers through a widening circle of antiracist ideas—from the most basic concepts to visionary possibilities—that will help readers see all forms of racism clearly, understand their poisonous consequences, and work to oppose them in our systems and in ourselves.”

“Fed Up, Emotional Labor, Women, and the Way Forward by Gemma Hartley- Day in, day out, women anticipate and manage the needs of others. In relationships, we initiate the hard conversations. At home, we shoulder the mental load required to keep our households running. At work, we moderate our tone, explaining patiently and speaking softly. In the world, we step gingerly to keep ourselves safe. We do this largely invisible, draining work whether we want to or not—and we never clock out. No wonder women everywhere are overtaxed, exhausted, and simply fed up.

“The New Jim Crow, Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander- Seldom does a book have the impact of Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow. Since it was first published in 2010, it has been cited in judicial decisions and has been adopted in campus-wide and community-wide reads; it helped inspire the creation of the Marshall Project and the new $100 million Art for Justice Fund; it has been the winner of numerous prizes, including the prestigious NAACP Image Award; and it has spent nearly 250 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Most important of all, it has spawned a whole generation of criminal justice reform activists and organizations motivated by Michelle Alexander’s unforgettable argument that “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.” As the Birmingham News proclaimed, it is “undoubtedly the most important book published in this century about the U.S.”


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