John B. Hattendorf

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John Brewster Hattendorf
Born (1941-12-22) December 22, 1941 (age 75)
Western Springs, Illinois, U.S.
Residence United States
Academic background
Influences Richard G. Salomon
Charles Ritcheson
A. Hunter Dupree
Piers Mackesy
Ragnhild Hatton
N. H. Gibbs
Academic work
Main interests Maritime history
Notable works Oxford Encyclopedia of Maritime History

John Brewster Hattendorf, D.Phil., D.Litt., L.H.D., FRHistS, (born December 22, 1941) is an American naval historian. He is the author, co-author, editor, or co-editor of more than forty books on British and American maritime history and naval warfare. In 2005, the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings described him as "one of the most widely known and well respected naval historians in the world."[1] In reference to his work on the history of naval strategy, an academic in Britain termed him the "doyen of US naval educators."[2] From 1984 to 2016, he was the Ernest J. King Professor of Maritime History at the United States Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. He has called maritime history "a subject that touches on both the greatest moments of the human spirit as well as on the worst, including war."[3] In 2011, the Naval War College announced the establishment of the Hattendorf Prize for Distinguished Original Research in Maritime History, named for him.[4][5] The 2014 Oxford Naval Conference - "Strategy and the Sea" - celebrated his distinguished career on April 10–12, 2014.[6] The proceedings of the conference were published as a festschrift.[7]

Family, education, and early life[edit]

Hattendorf was born and raised in the village of Western Springs, Illinois. He is a ninth great-grandson (eleventh generation descendant) of Elder William Brewster of the Plymouth Colony.[8] His interest in the ships and the sea stemmed from summers spent at his family cottage at Portage Point, Michigan, where he was a sailing instructor on Portage Lake from 1958 to 1964. After graduating in the Class of 1960 from Lyons Township High School in LaGrange, Illinois, he earned his bachelor's degree in history in 1964 from Kenyon College, where he was inspired by Charles Ritcheson and Richard G. Salomon.[9] In 1970, he graduated from the Frank C. Munson Institute of American Maritime History at Mystic Seaport, where he studied under Robert G. Albion and Benjamin W. Labaree. He earned his master's degree in history from Brown University in 1971, completing his thesis under the tutelage of A. Hunter Dupree on the history of strategic thinking and war gaming at the Naval War College. In 1979, he completed his doctorate at Pembroke College, Oxford with a thesis on English Grand Strategy in the War of the Spanish Succession, 1702–12, supervised by N. H. Gibbs and complemented by studies under Ragnhild Hatton, Sir Michael Howard and Piers Mackesy.[10][full citation needed]

Naval career[edit]

After graduation from Kenyon College, he served his country in uniform for eight years during the Vietnam War period, as a naval officer. He served on board USS O'Brien (DD-725), earning a commendation from the Commander, United States Seventh Fleet, for outstanding performance of duty during combat operations in April 1967. Later, he served at sea in USS Purdy (DD-734) and USS Fiske (DD-842). While in the U.S. Navy, Hattendorf also served ashore at the Naval History Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (Op-09B9), in Washington, D.C. in 1967–69, where he was first trained in naval history under Rear Admiral Ernest M. Eller and Dr. William J. Morgan, and at the Naval War College in 1972–73, where he served as speech writer and research assistant to Vice Admiral Stansfield Turner and also taught in the college's strategy and policy department.[11]

Civilian academic career[edit]

Hattendorf has spent most of his civilian academic career at the United States Naval War College, returning there as a civilian faculty member in 1977. He taught Strategy and Policy for a number of years. From 1988 to 2003, he directed the United States Naval War College's Advanced Research Department. In 2003, Hattendorf became the first chairman of the Naval War College's newly established Maritime History Department, where he oversaw its research section and also the director of the Naval War College Museum. He retired in September 2016 and was promoted to Ernest J. King Professor Emeritus of Maritime History. He identified four primary audiences for the U.S. Navy's maritime history programs: sailors, Navy leaders, government policymakers, and the American people.[12]

As a civilian scholar, he has been visiting professor of history at the National University of Singapore and at the German Armed Forces Military History Research Office, a senior associate member of St Antony's College, Oxford, and a visiting Fellow at Pembroke College, Oxford. He has been an adjunct professor at the Frank C. Munson Institute of American Maritime History since 1990 and served as its director from 1996 to 2001.

He served on the Secretary of the Navy's Advisory Subcommittee on Naval History from 2004 through 2008, serving as chairman, 2006–2008. He was a member of the Board of Advisors to the Canadian Forces College at Toronto.

For four years from 2003 through 2007, Hattendorf served as President of the North American Society for Oceanic History and, in that role, headed the U.S. delegation to the International Commission for Maritime History. He served as one of the commission's vice-presidents, 2005–2009.

He is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and has served as a member of council and vice-president of the Hakluyt Society (UK), and was the founding president of the American Friends of the Hakluyt Society. He has been a member of Council of the Navy Records Society. Since 1989, he has been co-chair of the publications committee of the Newport Historical Society and since 2005, historian of Trinity Church, Newport, Rhode Island, and a member of the Board of Scholars for the Museum of the American Revolution.


NEWPORT, R.I. (September 23, 2016) Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. John Richardson presents Dr. John Hattendorf with the Navy Distinguished Civilian Service Award during the second day of the 22nd International Seapower Symposium (ISS) at U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. More than 180 senior officers and civilians from more than 110 countries including many of the senior-most officers from those countries' navies and coast guards, attended the biennial event September 20-23. This year's theme was "Stronger Maritime Partners" and will feature guest speakers and panel discussions to explore the common security challenges of maritime nations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Nathan Laird/Released)

Kenyon College awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1997.[13]

In 1998, Lyons Township High school named him to its Alumni Hall of Fame.[14]

The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich (UK) awarded him its Caird Medal in 2000 for his contributions to the field of maritime history.

In 2003, the North American Society for Oceanic History (NASOH) presented him its K. Jack Bauer Award for service to maritime history.

In 2009, he received the Department of the Navy Superior Civilian Service Award for his work as chairman, Secretary of the Navy's Advisory Subcommittee on Naval History, 2006–2008. In addition, the USS Constitution Museum presented him with its Samuel Eliot Morison Award.[15] and the Navy League of the United States presented him with its Alfred Thayer Mahan Award for Literary Achievement.[16]

In 2012, the Naval Order of the United States awarded him its Admiral of the Navy George Dewey Award.[17]

In 2014, The Naval Historical Foundation awarded him the Commodore Dudley W. Knox Naval History Lifetime Achievement Award.[18]

In March 2016, the University of Oxford awarded Hattendorf a higher doctorate, the Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.) degree.[19]

In September 2016, The Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral John Richardson presented him with the Navy Distinguished Civilian Service Award.[20]

He is an honorary corresponding member of the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Royal Swedish Society of Naval Sciences, the Academie Du Var (France),[21] the Society for Nautical Research (U.K.), and since 2008 an Associate Member the Class of Maritime History of the Portuguese Navy's Academia de Marinha.[22]


His histories range from studies on the War of the Spanish Succession to recent naval history. He has written readers' guides to the Aubrey-Maturin series of naval novels by Patrick O'Brian, as well as works on Alfred Thayer Mahan and Sir Julian Corbett.

He was senior editor of the series Classics of Sea Power for the U.S. Naval Institute Press and edited the series Maritime Books, 1475–1800, a collection of facsimiles of rare books from the John Carter Brown Library.

Hattendorf was a co-author of The Oxford Illustrated History of the Royal Navy and The Oxford Illustrated History of Modern Warfare, the latter with Richard Holmes and other authors. He contributed 22 articles to The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2005) and was editor-in-chief of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Maritime History (2007), which was awarded the 2008 Dartmouth Medal.

Books and monographs[edit]

Collected articles and essays[edit]

  • Naval History and Maritime Strategy: Collected Essays (2000)
  • Talking About Naval History: A Collection of Essays (2011)

Co-authored books[edit]

Edited historical documents[edit]

Introductions to historical books[edit]

  • Charles Nordhoff, Man-of-war life: a boy's experience in the United States Navy, during a voyage around the world in a ship-of-the-line [1855] (1985)
  • J.C. Wylie, Military strategy: a general theory of power control (1967). (1989)
  • Julian Corbett, Maritime operations in the Russo-Japanese War, 1904–1905 introduction by D. M. Schurman and John B. Hattendorf (1994)
  • Tobias Gentleman, England's way to win wealth, and to employ ships and marriners (1614). Delmar, N.Y.: Published for the John Carter Brown Library by Scholars' Facsimiles & Reprints, (1995)
  • Josiah Burchett, A Complete History of the Most Remarkable Transactions at Sea [1720] Delmar, N.Y.: Published for the John Carter Brown Library by Scholars' Facsimiles & Reprints, (1995)
  • Joseph Conrad, The Rover (1923) ( 1999)
  • Christopher Lloyd, Lord Cochrane: seaman, radical, liberator: a life of Thomas, Lord Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald (1947). (1998)
  • Lawrence C. Wroth, The Way of a Ship, An Essay in the Literature of Navigation Science, along with, Some American Contributions to the Art of Navigation, 1519–1802. Revised editions, edited with a foreword by John B. Hattendorf. (Providence: The John Carter Brown Library, 2011).

Edited collections[edit]

  • Maritime strategy and the balance of power: Britain and America in the twentieth century edited by John B. Hattendorf and Robert S. Jordan; foreword by Robert J. O'Neill (1989)
  • Limitations of military power: essays presented to Professor Norman Gibbs on his eightieth birthday edited by John B. Hattendorf and Malcolm H. Murfett ; foreword by Andrew Goodpaster, Piers Mackesy and Sir Michael Pike (1990)
  • The influence of history on Mahan: the proceedings of a conference marking the centenary of Alfred Thayer Mahan's The Influence of sea power upon history, 1660–1783 edited by John B. Hattendorf (1991)
  • Mahan is not enough: the proceedings of a conference on the works of Sir Julian Corbett and Admiral Sir Herbert Richmond edited by James Goldrick and John B. Hattendorf (1993)
  • Ubi sumus?: the state of naval and maritime history edited by John B. Hattendorf (1994)
  • Doing naval history: essays toward improvement edited by John B. Hattendorf (1995)
  • Maritime history: The Age of Discovery and The Eighteenth Century and the Classic Age of Sail, edited by John B. Hattendorf (1996–97)
  • Naval policy and strategy in the Mediterranean: past, present and future edited by John B. Hattendorf (2000)
  • War at sea in the Middle Ages and Renaissance edited by John B. Hattendorf and Richard W. Unger (2003)
  • The Cold War at sea: an international appraisal guest editors Lyle J. Goldstein, John B. Hattendorf and Yuri M. Zhukov. Journal of Strategic Studies, (April 2005)
  • Nineteen-Gun Salute: Case Studies of Operational, Strategic, and Diplomatic Naval Leadership during the 20th and Early 21st Centuries, edited by John B. Hattendorf and Bruce A. Elleman. (2010)
  • Marlborough: Soldier and Diplomat, edited by John B. Hattendorf, Augustus J. Veenendaal, Jr., and Rolof van Hövell tot Westerflier (2012).

Proceedings of the International Seapower Symposium[edit]

Guides and registers to manuscript collections at the Naval War College[edit]

  • Register of the papers of William L. Mullin compiled by John B. Hattendorf (1981) [1]
  • Register of the papers of Alfred T. Mahan (1986) [2]
  • Register of the papers of William McCarty Little compiled by John B. Hattendorf (1989) [3]
  • Register of the papers of Harrij Fredrich Louis Heinrich Schlie (1878–1916) and Gunther Wilhelm August Schlie (1906–1995)
  • Register of the Papers of Admiral of the Fleet Sir James Hawkins Whitshed, GCB.

Dictionaries and encyclopedias[edit]


  • A bibliography of the works of Alfred Thayer Mahan compiled by John B. Hattendorf and Lynn C. Hattendorf (1987)
  • "A bibliography of the works of Admiral Sir Herbert Richmond" and "A bibliography of the works of Sir Julian Corbett" in Goldrick and Hattendorf, eds., Mahan is Not Enough, (1993)

Exhibition catalogues[edit]

Pictorial histories[edit]

A Dusty Path: A pictorial History of Kenyon College (1964)

Selected essays and articles[edit]


  1. ^ U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, vol. 130/12/1,222 (December 2005), p. 64
  2. ^ Beatrice Heuser, The Evolution of Strategy: Thinking War from Antiquity to the Present (Cambridge University Press, 2010), p. 287
  3. ^ "Remarks on Receiving an Honorary Degree"
  4. ^ H-Net news report
  5. ^ Naval War College Press Release, 20 October 2011
  6. ^ 2014 Oxford Naval History Conference, 10-12 April 2014
  7. ^
  8. ^ General Society of Mayflower Descendants number 82629 RI; Sons of the American Revolution No. 173386, RI No. 1730
  9. ^ "Remarks on Receiving an Honorary Degree"
  10. ^ Information from Naval War College Library Reference Department
  11. ^ Talking About Naval History, p. x
  12. ^ "The Uses of Maritime History in and for the Navy," Naval War College Review, (April 2003)
  13. ^ Kenyon Alumni Bulletin, November 1997
  14. ^ Lyons Township High School alumni web page
  15. ^ USS Constitution Museum News Release, 20 October 2009
  16. ^ Naval War College News Release, 18 November 2009
  17. ^
  18. ^ David F. Winkler, "Naval Historians to Receive Knox Award," Pull Together (Volume 53 No. 3 - Summer 2014) / Daybook (Volume 17 Issue 3), p. 12.
  19. ^
  20. ^ Official US Navy photograph of the award ceremony
  21. ^ Academie du Var—List of Corresponding Members
  22. ^ List of Associate Members of the Academia de Marinha in the Class of Maritime History


  • Alastair Cooper and Joseph F. Callo, Jr., comps., Who's Who in Naval History (2004)
  • Contemporary Authors
  • U.S. Naval War College Library
  • Eugene L. Rasor, English/British Naval History to 1815. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2004, pp. xvii–xviii, 1, 45. Dedicatee of volume.
  • Dennis Fiely, "High Seas Historian," Kenyon College Alumni Bulletin, vol. 33, no, 2 (Winter 2011), p. 43.
  • Annie Sherman, Legendary Locals of Newport, (Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2013), p. 35.
  • N.A.M. Rodger, "John B. Hattendorf--A Transatlantic Tribute" in Rodger, J. Ross Dancy, Benjamin Darnell, and Evan Wilson, eds., Strategy and the Sea: Essays in Honour of John B. Hattendorf, (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2016), pp. 1-4.

External links[edit]