In the same way the Commandant of the Marine Corps publishes his reading list for Marines, the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) also publishes a reading list. The CNO Reading List was updated in 2012 and no longer focuses on a rank-based structure, but rather on three core tenets.

The official message on the Navy reading list updates can be found in NAVADMIN 309/12. To summarize the message:

  • Updates released in conjunction with the Navy’s 237th Birthday.
  • The new reading list no longer rank-based.
  • 18 books make up an “Essential Reading” list
  • 24 books make up a “Recommended Reading” list
  • Some books can be obtained electronically for free via Navy Knowledge On-line (NKO)
  • Books focused on “Warfighting First”, “Operate Forward”, and “Be Ready”

Reading, discussing, and understanding the ideas found in the CNO-PRP will not only improve our critical thinking skills, but will also help us become better sailors, citizens, and most importantly, leaders. This list is not intended to limit professional reading in any way, but merely to provide easy access to a few of the many titles that will benefit our service.



CNO Essential Reading List

This is the entire list released as part of the Navy reading list and can also be found at the official Navy Reading website.

All of the links in this list are affiliate links. The “free audiobook” links are valid for those who have not tried and would like to signup for a FREE trial. Currently, Amazon is offering two free audiobooks with a free trial membership.

Warfighting First

1812: The Navy’s War” by George C. Daughan (free audiobook)
Cyber Security and Cyber Warfare” by P.W. Singer and Allan Friedman
SEAL of Honor” by Gary Williams (free audiobook)
Leading With the Heart” by Mike “Coach-K” Krzyzewski’s (free audiobook)
The Twilight War” by Davis Crist
Wake of the Wahoo” by Forest J. Sterling

Operate Forward

The Crisis of Islam” by Bernard Lewis (free audiobook)
Execute Against Japan” by LT Joel Holwitt
Monsoon” by Robert Kaplan (free audiobook)
Neptune’s Inferno” by James D. Hornfischer (free audiobook)
Red Star Over the Pacific” by Toshi Yoshihara
Fallout: The True Story of the CIA’s Secret War on Nuclear Trafficking” by Catherine Collins and Douglas Frantz

Be Ready

A Sailor’s History of the U.S. Navy” by Thomas Cutler
In the Shadow of Greatness” by Joshua Welle, John Ennis, Katherine Kranz, and Graham Plaster (free audiobook)
Navigating the Seven Seas” by Melvin G. Williams, Sr. and Melvin G. Williams, Jr.
The Trident: The Forging and Reforging of a Navy SEAL Leader” by LT Jason Redman (free audiobook)
Turn the Ship Around” by L. David Marquet (free audiobook)
Wired for War” by P.W. Singer

CNO Recommended Reading List

Warfighting First

Art of the Long View” by Peter Schwartz
Shackelton’s Way” by Margot Morrell and Stephanie Capparel (free audiobook)
Six Frigates” by Ian Toll (free audiobook)
Starship Troopers” by Robert Heinlein (free audiobook)
The Second World War, Volume 1” by Winston Churchill
The Seventh Angel” by Jeff Edwards (free audiobook)
To the Shores of Tripoli” by A.B.C. Whipple
Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief” by James McPherson (free audiobook)

Operate Forward

Aircraft Carriers at War” by James Holloway III
On the Origins of War: And the Preservation of Peace” by Donald Kagan
One Hundred Years of Sea Power” by George Baer
The Elephant and the Dragon” by Robyn Meredith (free audiobook)
The Great Wall at Sea” by Bernard Cole
The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors” by James Hornfischer (free audiobook)
The Sand Pebbles” by Richard McKenna
With the Old Breed” by E.B. Sledge (free audiobook)

Be Ready

1776” by David McCullough
Integrity” by Stephen Carter
Leadership: The Warrior’s Art” by Christopher Kolenda (free audiobook)
Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius” by Dava Sobel (free audiobook)
Master and Commander” by Patrick O’Brian (free audiobook)
The Innovator’s Dilemma” by Clayton Christensen
The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell (free audiobook)
Two Souls Indivisible” by James Hirsch