TO RISK IT ALL: Nine Conflicts and the Crucible of Decision Making | Admiral James Stavridis, Penguin Press, 352p.
To Risk is billed as a book about decision-making under pressure; ex-admiral Stavridis outlines 9 US navel engagements from which he draws lessons or examples for insight.
The nine tales include John Paul Jones, Stephen Decatur, George Dewey, David Farragut, William “Bull” Halsey, Doris Miller, Michelle Howard, Lloyd Bucher, and Brett Crozier.
It is an informative survey of some well-known and obscure figures culled from the 250-year history of the U.S. Navy. The depth of historical context and decision analysis is, at best, light. It’s a survey course.
Nevertheless, it brings to life parts of America’s incredible defense history that many have forgotten or never learned. Take, for instance, the DPRK's seizure of the U.S.S. Pueblo. The impossible situation its commander was placed in without any optimal outcomes available. Most of us will never face these types of consequential choices.
Stavridis draws the apparent lessons: Gathering all Data, Understanding the timeline, Considering all outcomes, Evaluating resources, Focusing on People, Being open to changing your mind, etc. The author provides a Churchillian tool in the leader’s toolbox, but this one isn’t heavy-duty in either depth or breadth.