Ultimately, Smith’s book will accommodate both scholars and seekers of American naval heritage. Its reception among historians proves this work as a major contribution to many fields and the broader understanding of the 19th century naval history that led to the American empire. One can appreciate the title To Master the Boundless Sea as an endless endeavor to challenge ourselves to strive and understand the immeasurable depths of the seas and the relationship between knowledge and the environment in which we live.
In the end, Arginusae was important not just because it was the last Athenian victory in the war, or because it was a shameful event in the history of Athens, but because of the hostility it caused towards Athenian democracy. The book closes with a brief look at the end of the Peloponnesian War and the damage done by Arginusae to the reputation of Athens in the millennia since the battle was fought. This book makes it eminently understandable how great that tragedy was.
To say there is something here for everyone would be something of an understatement. There is more than enough in the volume for naval strategists and historians in terms of scope, geographical region, and topic. But for a popular strategy audience this collection will be a hard slog, if not intimidating. This is a shame, because these essays have much to offer. So, if one can afford it, purchase the anthology, peruse the topics, and read. Otherwise, for the everyman strategist out there, go to your nearest college library and get it there. You will still be rewarded.
The patterns of Islamic seapower illustrated by MacDougall appear again in the present day. By engaging with this important book, modern naval and military thinkers will begin to develop an understanding of how naval and maritime power has been developed in the region in the past. This can result in a better framework for them to consider developments and naval strategy in the present and the future.
A successful strategy is usually not the result of one single factor such as advanced technology. Effective strategy depends on a closely interlocking set of systems that need to work smoothly together. Technology, people, doctrine, organizational structure, and training must work in a coordinated and complementary manner. Failure to integrate all these elements will create leaders who are just as frustrated such as the submarine skipper of the USS Tinosa in July 1943––when he spent the entire day firing torpedoes into an enemy ship only to see it sail away intact.