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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
The Royal Navy Officer's Pocket-Book
Format: Hardcover|Change
Price:£7.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on 1 January 2010
I found this book most engrossing, having read it in conjunction with 'A Seaman's Pocket-book'. I lacked such a concise book on leadership and people-management when I served as a junior officer in the RN. If I was heading off for young officer training at Dartmouth now, this book would be invaluable. It underlines the value of humility, and I particularly liked the observations that leadership and command (of a ship) is a privilege that one should strive to be worthy of.
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on 6 December 2017
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on 12 June 2017
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on 10 September 2017
very informative
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on 13 August 2008
As an ex-Naval Officer, now consultant in leadership, I couldn't pass this book by.

For many people, "military leadership" means strict hierarchy, shouted orders and unquestioned obedience. This book sets the record straight.

The times when shouted orders are necessary are actually few and far between, and unquestioned obedience is earned by mutual respect, patiently built over a long period of time. The book is particularly striking for the emphasis placed on earning that respect, and for the warning against the abuse of power.

In organisations today the abuse of power is usually called "ego" and overbearing managers are referred to as Alpha males. Such behaviour remains unfortunately prevalent in the workplace and is the source of much harmful stress.

In the words of Admiral Willis, Second Sea Lord, writing in 1944: "Do not forget that it is within your power to cause considerable mental anguish to your younger officers by a consistent tone of sarcasm and contempt... and what is worse, nobody is going to tell you about it. In all officers, but above all in Commanding Officers, the words Officer and Gentleman should be entirely synonymous".

The book is full of good, specific advice for people in leadership positions. This advice remains as valid in organisations today as it was in the wartime Royal Navy in 1944.

Here is one example:

"You must look upon your talks with your men as one of the most important things you do. An intelligent man wants both information and inspiration. Work out exactly how to say it beforehand. If Winston Churchill has to rehearse all his speeches, there is no reason why you should not. Explain all you can, giving praise where due."

To get the most of the book, you will nevertheless need a minimum of interest and sympathy for the conditions of life at sea in a warship. At only £3.99, you don't have much to lose!
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on 16 October 2007
This little book is indeed a gem. Not only does one salute the writers for their incisive advice to Royal Navy officers in a time of total war, this book makes clear the steep learning curve of those many civilians who became sea officers in World War II. The introduction begins with a lovely quotation from some time RNVR officer Sir Alec Guinness.

But this is more than a document - rather, a collection of documents - of war history. It is a pocket-book that will be instructive for naval officers, of any nationality, even today. Anyone who has had sea command, indeed served in a warship, will enjoy reflecting on chapters entitled "Your Ship", "HMS Duncan - Captain's Orders" and "The Home Fleet Destroyer Orders". Those in the sick bay might not so much enjoy the two chapters aimed at Medical Officers at sea in wartime!

Any naval rating who has been a defaulter will be interested to see the advice offered to investigating officers (too late to request 'to state a complaint' now, though!) and the final chapter, on "Mutiny in the Royal Navy", is a lesson for all time.

The section on leadership is just as relevant today, perhaps moreso, and is not just for naval officers; the advice should be read by anyone in a leadership role, whether in the armed forces or civilian life. Those who have served in the Royal Navy, as well as other services, will surely nod in agreement as they read "Never forget that the Ratings have few rights; but they definitely have got a right to good Officers", and "Do not despise advice tendered to you by your subordinates", as well as "There is nothing more irritating to a sailor than to be addressed as 'You there' or something akin to that. He likes to know that he is known by name." At this price, I'd wager that this is one of the best value books on leadership on the market today - the basics are timeless. There are indeed good lessons from history.

For those with an interest in family history, with ancestors or relatives who served in the Royal Navy, this little volume will certainly give a good idea of the responsibilities of naval officers and of life in the Royal Navy. Although the book cover states 1944, it could just as well read 1964, 1984 or, perhaps, 2004.
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on 6 January 2011
Really, really good....but not an easy read. If you stand the 'Official Prose' and 'Admiralty Style', this short, sharp book is fantastic. It shines a brilliant light on the thinking of the Royal Navy late in WWII.

Honestly, really good.
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on 11 February 2010
This book was wonderful to read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I have given this book a top rating for a number of reasons.

As a historical document it gives a keen insight as to how the allied war was fought at sea, providing a fair amount of technical information and style of command. Originally published for RN Officers (as a number of separate pamphlets), it gives a surprisingly detailed instruction as to how to effectively manage a ship and it's crew. The book addresses not only the technical aspects of managing a RN ship's crew but also the general attitude and outlook to be adopted by officers.

Bearing in mind that these documents were first published nearly sixty-seven years ago, it is easy to see how the guidelines laid down back then still hold true today. I think that anybody today could well benefit from taking heed from the advice in this book, particularly those in a position of management or command. It effectively suggests that officers should lead by example, but also states the standards for that, including advice on letter writing, dress standards, addressing seniors or juniors and so on. I would go so far to say that it is as much a guide to 'how to be a gentleman' as it is about the Royal Navy!

All of the information and lessons in the book are tied together by a beautiful style of writing which makes the whole book an absolute joy to read. As long as you are not expecting a whole book of continuous flowing prose (it is essentially an instruction manual, not a story) I would highly recommend it. Definitely in my top five favourite books.
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on 6 March 2013
This is a great little book with some facinating and inspiring references to leadership. My main critisism is that it is a little disjointed. More thought could have been given to the context layout of the different subject matter. There also seems to be an over large section referring to the requirements of Medical Officers.

All of this not withstanding, it is a facinating little leadership reference that many civilian managers would well be advised to take a look at!
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on 24 August 2009
... in and for which it was written, its a highly interesting guide. I enjoyed especially chapter V, with advices to an officer on assuming his first command. A lot of those notes didn't need to be updated, there are very relevant to our present day's. Delightful are also the illustrations, variing from a gunners layout of a destroyer to a few looks on 'life on board'.
My result: absolutely recommendable.
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