The Accidental Admiral, published on October 1, 2014 has received widespread critical acclaim. The book provides insight into the challenges faced by Adm. Stavridis as Supreme Allied Commander at NATO and the use of power in an innovative and "smart" way.

Advance Praise for The Accidental Admiral

"Admiral James Stavridis is a military intellectual who has written an engaging, deeply thoughtful book about leadership in the crucible of great events. In particular, his arguments about the continued relevance of NATO are prescient given the crisis in Ukraine. His defense of Generals Stanley McChrystal, David Petraeus, and John Allen is both poignant and necessary. This book should be required reading for young officers."
Robert D. Kaplan, best-selling author of Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History and The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate

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"Admiral Jim Stavridis is one of the most forward-thinking military officers and enlightened leaders of his generation. Afghanistan, Libya, the Balkans, Syria, piracy and cyber threats were just a few of the enormous challenges he superbly handled as Supreme Allied Commander at NATO. The Accidental Admiral gives readers a window into what it is like to wrestle with the toughest 21st century problems of strategy and diplomacy."

Robert M. Gates, Secretary of Defense, 2008-11; author of Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War

"Jim Stavridis is a unique breed of leader–at once both a seasoned practitioner, and a thoughtful, charismatic intellectual. He embodies the very definition of a 'renaissance man.' A generation of our leaders benefited from working for and with Jim–myself included. Readers of The Accidental Admiral will benefit from the insights of a proven leader's reflections of a pivotal time in history."

Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, USA (Ret.), Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan, 2009-10; co-founder and partner of the McChrystal Group

"There was nothing accidental about Jim Stavridis becoming an Admiral or Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. He is one of the best of the new breed of military officers — equally proficient at waging war and waging peace, equally learned in military history and cultural history. Whether dealing with Afghanistan, Russia or the Middle East, Jim has always demonstrated an ability to find new ways to look at and try to resolve age-old problems. In The Accidental Admiral, he brilliantly shares hard won lessons learned on the application of "smart power" in the modern world and also offers readers critical insights into leadership, innovation, planning and communication. After I got to know Jim and to appreciate the range of his intellect and interests, I regularly would ask, “What are you reading Admiral?” The books he recommended were always great reads from which I learned a lot. The same will be true for anyone who reads The Accidental Admiral.”

Joseph I. Lieberman United States Senator, Retired

"Admiral James Stavridis may be an “accidental admiral” but he is no ordinary commander. He is equal parts thinker and doer, asking hard questions and continually challenging himself and the men and women under his command. His tour of duty as Supreme Allied Commander in Europe encompassed some of the most trying and important issues of our time in Europe and the Middle East. A rollicking and fun read.”

Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and CEO of The New America Foundation, Director, Policy Planning Staff, U.S. Department of State, 2009-2011




"Those who want to understand NATO, especially if they have an important job to do within it should read the book both for what it says about the issues confronting the alliance and for guidance on how commanders should try to manage the task of reacting to them. Not everyone will agree with everything the Admiral says, but at the very least it’s all worth very seriously thinking about."

Read more…

BOOK REVIEW — The Accidental Admiral: A Sailor Takes Command at NATO –  Naval Historial Foundation March 17, 2015

First, Stavridis provides valuable historical perspective of the major conflicts that occurred or were ongoing during his time at the helm of NATO/EUCOM. Second, he shares his views on strategic leadership to include the advantages and pitfalls that come with Twitter, Facebook, and the other tools of a more interconnected world. – See more at:

Read More at  NavyHistory.Org


Australian Defence Force Journal – Issue 196  March 2015

“Stavridis writes with a career’s worth of confidence in never being too concerned with rocking the boat. He continues to consider himself a ‘disruptive innovator’, based on a career advanced with ‘house money’ and never expecting advancement. In The Accidental Admiral, he appeals to modern militaries to consign their traditional introspective and repetitive practices and instead develop akin to the modern technological world, which embraces risk and innovates rapidly.”

Read more atADJ Book reviews – March 2015 STAVRIDIS-1



An Admiral in the Storm: Stavridis on Leadership and Civility

Admiral James Stavridis’ new book, The Accidental Admiral, is very much in (the vein of General Eisenhower's "Crusade in Europe.")  Stavridis, perhaps the ultimate warrior-scholar of his generation, offers his views on contentious events candidly, but does not let himself get bogged down in score-settling and vitriol. 

….All in all, when considering the place of The Accidental Admiral in the cannon of military memoirs, I’m sure Ike would have enjoyed it a great deal.

Read more at:  Ryan Evans War on the Rocks — January 28, 2015


Adm. Stavridis has been variously called a “renaissance admiral,” “a military intellectual,” “the best of the new breed of military officers.” All appropriately laudatory, but I suspect he’d settle for something simpler — the son of a man who set a high standard by serving as a (naval) officer for more than 30 years, perhaps; a devoted husband and a proud father, who was chosen to speak to his daughter’s NROTC graduating class; an accidental admiral, a sailor and a patriot, whose success and service to his country was no accident at all.


Read more atJohn R. Coyne – The Washington Times – December 8, 2014


Much of the strength of the book lies in its style and structure. The text is admirably succinct but retains warmth and candour throughout, which make for an engaging read. A good balance is struck between specific events during the author’s command and general issues of concern to today’s senior officer…

In this concise and readable memoir, Admiral Stavridis has provided an insightful overview of NATO operations during his eventful command. More importantly, perhaps, he has made a well-informed contribution to the debate about the future of the Alliance.

Read more at: Simon Bellamy – The Naval Review – November 2014


"…highly accessible, the tone is easy, and it reads more like a conversation with a friendly and well-traveled professor than an admiral's memoirs.  This makes sense given his acumen with modern communication techniques (he announced the end of NATO operations in Libya over Twitter and devotes a chapter of the book to strategic communications) and displays his skill at explaining complex issues with clarity and in simple, understandable language.  While much political and military communication seems intent on obfuscating, either deliberately or because the messengers do not know how to focus their message for a broad audience, Adm. Stavridis does the exact opposite and more than anything else seems focused on conveying meaning and ensuring the reader understands the issue."

Read more at: Diplomatic Courier – A Global Affairs Magazine – September 30, 2014