I picked up this book anxious to learn more about the four five-star admirals who were instrumental in orchestrating the allied victory during World War II. “The Admirals” certainly fulfilled that goal but it also provided something I was not expecting, a fascinating look at four very distinct styles of leadership.
The historical accounts of the book are fascinating. Borneman traces the histories of Nimitz, Halsey, Leahy, and King back to a common source: The United States Naval Academy. He then builds out from there and details their early command experiences. While all ended up wearing the five-star rank, the incredibly varied accounts of how they reached the pinnacle of the Navy officer corps enables Borneman to share the ins and outs of a number of different aspects of the Navy. From salvage operations, to submarine commander, to Naval aviator, to commanding fleets responsible for the security of entire oceans, “The Admirals” provides a glimpse into many different facets of Navy life in the first half of the 20th century and chronicles the evolution of the Navy through the eyes of these four men.
Finally, I can’t overstate the value of this book to someone desiring to learn more about how to lead effectively. While these men had dramatically different personalities, they all ended up at the very top of the Navy. If you are looking for a good book to read on leadership you should definitely move this to the top of your list. Chances are, you’ll identify with one of the personalities involved and be able to learn from their successes and failures.
To sum up: This book it worth the price of admission for the history alone but is made even more valuable because of the helpful content on leadership.