The Influence of Sea Power upon History

The Influence of Sea Power upon History

"The Influence of Sea Power Upon History" (ISBN 0-486-25509-3) is an influential treatise on naval warfare written in 1890 by Alfred Thayer Mahan. It details the role of sea power throughout history and discusses the various factors needed to support a strong navy.


The book was published by Mahan while President of the US Naval War College, and was a culmination of his ideas regarding naval warfare and its superiority.

Mahan began the book with an examination of what factors lead to a supremacy of the seas, especially how Britain was able to rise to its near dominance. He identifies such features as geography, population, and government, and expands the definition of sea power as comprising a strong navy and commercial fleet. Mahan also promotes the belief that any army would succumb to a strong naval blockade.

The book then goes on to describe a series of European and American wars and how naval power was used in each.


The arguments of "The Influence of Seapower Upon History,1660-1783" influenced naval policies of governments for decades. In the United States, it made President Teddy Roosevelt support a greater navy; Mahan and Roosevelt became friends after Roosevelt published his own naval histories in the 1880s. It also motivated the U.S. government to project American power through its navy, thus beginning American Imperialism.

The treatise's influence was not limited to the U.S., Kaiser Wilhelm II ordered a copy aboard every ship of the Imperial German Navy; it encouraged enlargement of the German and Japanese navies, contributing to the naval arms race between Britain and Germany before The First World War.


* Downs, Robert B. "Books that Changed the World", New American Library: New York, NY, 1983. ISBN 0-451-52928-6

External links

* [ Mahan & The Influence of Sea Power Upon History]
* [ Project Gutenberg e-text]

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