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Desert Lawmen

Destroyer CaptainDestroyer Captain

Lessons of a First Command

Admiral James Stavridis, USN

Narrated by Chaz Allen

Available from Audible

Book published by U.S. Naval Institute Press

This memoir of James Stavridis' two years in command of the destroyer USS Barry reveals the human side of what it is like to be in charge of a warship—for the first time and in the midst of international crisis. From Haiti to the Balkans to the Arabian Gulf, the Barry was involved in operations throughout the world during his 1993–1995 tour. Drawing on daily journals he kept for the entire period, the author reveals the complex nature of those deployments in a "real time" context and describes life on board the Barry and liberty ashore for sailors and officers alike.

With all the joy, doubt, self-examination, hope, and fear of a first command, he offers an honest examination of his experience from the bridge to help readers grasp the true nature of command at sea. The window he provides into the personal lives of the crew illuminates not only their hard work in a ship that spent more than 70 percent of its time underway, but also the sacrifices of their families ashore. Stavridis credits his able crew for the many awards the Barry won while he was captain, including the Battenberg Cup for top ship in the Atlantic Fleet. Naval aficionados who like seagoing fiction will be attracted to the book, as will those fascinated by life at sea. Officers from all the services, especially surface warfare naval officers aspiring to command, will find these lessons of a first command by one of the Navy's most respected admirals both entertaining and instructive.

Admiral James Stavridis, USN is a 1976 distinguished graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a native of South Florida. As commander of U.S. Southern Command, he has responsibility for all U.S. military forces in Central and South America and the Caribbean Sea. His awards and decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, and five awards of the Legion of Merit. He holds a Ph.D. from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and is the coauthor of Command at Sea, Watch Officer's Guide, and Division Officer's Guide.


Destroyer Captain is a quick and enjoyable read. The writing flows like a good conversation with an old friend. This occurs in part because the chapters are short and succinct, enabling the reader to zip through the prose. Particularly valuable are transcripts of Stavridis’ speeches to his crew on Memorial Day and during the Change of Command at the end of his tour…It is recommended for anyone who is interested in or has fond memories of naval service.”

—Naval Historical Foundation

“This is a stirring tale of leadership challenge and the responsibility of command. How fitting that Admiral Stavridis' command experience was shaped by the adventures of guiding the USS Barry and her intrepid crew—a ship named for Irish American John Barry, a courageous warrior who led during the formative days of our fledgling republic. The 'good fortune and great heart' Admiral Stavridis ascribes to Barry is manifest in Destroyer Captain as timeless truths about leadership that accrues great benefit to all Americans thanks to those like Admiral Stavridis who defend us.”

—Sean O'Keefe, Secretary of the Navy, 1992-93

“Jim Stavridis' Destroyer Captain—a REQUIRED read for all who aspire to command at sea and anyone who wants to know what Conrad was really talking about. Stavridis tells you how it was—the ups and downs, the good and the bad—not how somebody thinks you ought to hear it. I loved it!”

—Adm. Robert J. Natter, USN (Ret.), Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, 2001-04

“With his insider details about the real worries and triumphs of command, Destroyer Captain is a must read for all naval officers and a fascinating adventure for everyone who loves the U.S. Navy.”

—Robert N. Macomber, Award-winning author of the Honor Series

All titles are published by:
University Press Audiobooks
an imprint of Redwood Audiobooks

University Press Audiobooks