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Sunday, June 01, 2014

Destroyer Captain: Lessons of a First Command by Adm. James Stavridis Review

Now a flag admiral, the author was the second commanding officer of the U.S.S. Barry (the first to take her on deployment,) an Arleigh Burke class destroyer, the same class as the Vincennes, the ship that shot down the Iranian passenger plane (an Airbus 300 flight 655) with an Aegis missile in 1988 believing it to be an attacking jet. The book was a big disappointment to me. It’s basically a journal, an almost daily one, but without the serious introspection of those worth reading. It’s quite self-congratulatory and one wonders if those under his command really had the same regard for him that he had for himself. I had hoped for a better feel of what it’s like to become captain of a modern destroyer. Unfortunately, this journal is too superficial. Here's an all-too-representative sample: We had lunches and dinners all over this intriguing seaport city, which is actually quite blue collar—at least by Riviera standards. Clearly, it is the best buy on the Riviera, with a good French fixed-price dinner going for under $20 for three courses and frequently with wine thrown in! Pizza in the wood-burning ovens is excellent. My favorite place, in fact, was a pizzeria called Luigis up over a hill behind the beach area of Mourillons. The Cercle Navale (French officers’ club) has excellent buys on lunches. The large Carrefour in the downtown is a French Kmart of sorts, with great buys on wine, pottery, and other typically French items. Now what lessons of command he learned from that escapes me. For something much more real, I highly recommend Don Sheppard’s books.
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