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Intent to Deceive (book jacket blurb)

Feb

15

A beautiful Russian woman double agent narrowly escapes certain death on a Russian waterfront. She subsequently uses her Olympic high bar experience to vault past two assassination attempts. But despite these narrow escapes, Anastasia has no idea who has betrayed her and intends her harm. Are her enemies Russian, Kazakh, Chechen – or the CIA? And she is completely unaware of how these perfidies are related to missing Kazakhstani nuclear warheads — weapons that will soon be threating the safety of tens of millions of innocent people.

Does Anastasia need the assistance of the American submarine captain who retrieved her under fire from Vladivostok? Will her pride even permit him to help? Will they together be able to thwart the international thieves? Will love, death or the mushroom of a nuclear explosion bloom on the snowy steppes of Kazakhstan?

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First Novel — Intent to Deceive

Feb

15

My first novel will be published next week – the kindle version available for less than the cost of a microbrew.

Think of the book as a mystery with mature moments. It is a story built around a beautiful Russian double agent. We first meet her as she is rescued from Russia by a US nuclear submarine. After she reaches America, it quickly becomes apparent she still isn’t safe. Now who is her betrayer? The submarine captain who brought her out of Russia wants badly to be more than an ally, but she has made other choices.

She and the submarine captain confront the Russians in Saint Petersburg, have their own quick liaison in the Napa wine country, and soon find out the race is on across snowy Kazakhstan to uncover a Cold War cache of nuclear weapons!

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Submarine History Symposium

Sep

23

I will be at the Naval Submarine League Symposium on 31 October if anyone wants their copies of Against the Tide signed. It will be a great opportunity to discuss how Dave Minton’s patrol aboard Guardfish changed history.

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Tantor Media purchases audio rights for Against the Tide

Sep

23

Naval Institute Press notified me this week that Tantor Media had purchased audio rights for Against the Tide.  Interesting, a month ago I sent the Press a new leadership book that is essentially a follow-on to Lean On. I haven’t heard of their interest yet.

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Delaware USNA Alumni Dinner

Mar

1

26 Oct 15.  At classmate Jim Ring’s invitation, Linda and I traveled to Dover to participate in a Naval Academy annual alumni dinner. This is a audience with a deep understanding of the background so the discussion focused less on Admiral Rickover than it did on the impact of nuclear submarines on the Cold War on the Navy.  Fun evening.

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Newport News

Mar

1

2 September 2015. Admiral Chuck Beers arranged for me to be hosted by the Chief Engineer, Charles Southall, of the Newport News Shipyard so I might tour the facility and speak to their people about Admiral Rickover and leadership. The most impressive aspect of the afternoon was the approach that Newport News has to the training of their engineers — I have seen a large number of manufacturing organizations and never been more impressed!

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Silverdale, Bremerton and Paulsbro

Jul

12

Accompanied by her sister, Nancy Merrick, Linda and I set forth for the Pacific NorthWest  in late June. Out destination was deep under the tall conifers lining the fiords that lead to one of the world’s greatest shipyards. The same deep waters meander by Senator “Scoop” Jackson’s naval base and also provide access to the Keyport Weapons Center. The naval base is particularly interesting.  It was established in the 1970’s as the country’s initial contractor-managed government complex and is one of our newer military facilities.  It also is home to half of our strategic submarines.

Our host for the visit was Bob Aronson, who had arranged three venues in which I could speak about Admiral Rickover and leadership.  Bob gave up a significant amount of his personal time to make our experience easy.  The same can be said of Jim and Rosemary Adkins, as well as Gerry and Joan Egan.  It is interesting how life’s events come full circle, as Linda and Rosemary were in the same 4-H club together in Firth, Idaho some years ago, and in my submarine life I worked at different times for both Jim and Gerry (and Linda and I were as well fortunate enough to get some time to speak to Bill Hahn, a fellow submariner and my roommate for a year at the Naval Academy).

I gave three talks, adjusting to the very different audiences.  One was interested in general in the Navy.  Another was drawn from the general community (because of their local, they all were much more interested in the Navy than similar citizens from Kansas might be), and the final one consisted of Naval Academy graduates (always fascinated in both leadership and Rickover) who have settled in the environs of Seattle.  The last group is the one that is always invigorating. Rickover and his many enemies dug so many emotional boreholes that, unless one is careful, inadvertent diversions can destroy any constructive conversation.

I have found that one of the best ways of recognizing Rickover’s real contribution is to begin the story at the end of the Cold War.

It was December 1989.  President Bush and President Gorbachev were at the Malta Conference aboard Gorki, and Marshal Akhromeyev was handing President Bush the Soviet military leader’s own morning intelligence report showing the Soviet Union surrounded by NATO forces. VADM J. D. Williams, the Commander of the Sixth Fleet, overheard his comments to the President, which were all about submarines. I explain what J.D. related to me decades ago.

I then go back to 1957 and the Soviet launch of Sputnik.

How did President Eisenhower choose to respond?  What path did he place the United States upon?  Does that continue to have relevance today?

 

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Chinese Edition

Apr

23

A publisher in Beijing surprised me this week. They  acquired the rights to issue a Chinese language copy of Against the Tide.  I have often idly wondered what would be the motivation to go to the immense effort of translating a non-technical book. English is a very complex language in itself, and Against the Tide is full of emotional history and idioms. It will be a difficult task.

I believe there are three possible scenarios that might explain this Beijing decision. They might have decided the book was a literary classic, along the lines of Pearl Buck’s “The Good Earth.” That is a possibility.  Or, perhaps more likely, the Chinese find Admiral Hyman G. Rickover even more memorable and interesting than do the admiral’s American counterparts.

Even more likely, China is most serious about developing their nuclear submarine capability. In working to be the best that is possible they, just as Admiral Rickover did in 1933 when he translated Das Underseeboot from the German, are deliberately making resources about submarines available for their officer corps.

If my mother were still alive, she would at least tell me she believed in my literary merit.

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A Week in Washington

Mar

20

Linda and I are completing a week in Washington speaking with groups of friends about Admiral Rickover and the general subject of leadership.  Numerous people have been graciously provided us forums. General Nordy Swartz let us speak to Business Executives for National Security even if he ran off to raise funds in Chicago, leaving us in the capable hands of Henry Hinton (former GAO) and Pat Kane. Our lifelong friend, Mitzi Wortheim’s devoted one of her monthly salon’s to leadership rather than one of the other goals she has pursued since she was the first individual to join the Peace Corps those several years ago. Hugh Howard introduced us to the State Department library for the first time, an area both Linda and I had somehow previously missed. (President Jefferson did us all proud in establishing the first American library).

We were welcomed at the Navy Memorial by Admiral John Totushek, an old friend from Navy and business days, who is again daily demonstrating that leadership principles are transferable to any task or challenge, and we spent as much time as they could afford with Ginger and my brother Tim, who is accomplishing the same thing in his role as the national Executive Director of the Navy League.

No visit to Washington would be complete without visiting our friend Peter Hughes, whom we had dinner with last night at Army Navy (Sherri Goodman was departing as we arrived, still excited about her new job as CEO  of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership). His partner and spouse, Mary Rose, was in the UK and did not join us, but several of Peter’s old friends from the Pentagon and the German Embassy did. As we sat there and listened to the conversation flow, Linda and I were reminded again that it is the extraordinary patriots like Peter Hughes that provide the human ties to link us to our allies.

We will finish us today by speaking at the Center for Naval Analysis, a Federally Funded Research organization. I have always been emotionally more fond of this group than I probably should be (the men and women who labored there have were some of the earliest users of operations analysis to warfare problems and subsequently had some of the greatest insights to modern warfare).  If the forecasted snow does not close down the airports while we are talking about Admiral Rickover, Linda and I will return to California late tonight.

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Aussie Reviews Against the Tide

Mar

20

Reviewed by Dr Gregory P. Gilbert
ONE MUST create the ability in this staff to generate clear forceful arguments for opposing viewpoints as well as for their own. Open discussions and disagreements must be encouraged.— Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, USN
This fascinating, easy to read, and engaging book is hard to put down. I found it particularly pleasing as it prompted me to reflect upon my own personal experiences, even though I have never been a nuclear submariner.
Against the Tide is a highly enjoyable read. Admiral Dave Oliver uses crisp language, personal anecdotes and provocative questions to put forward the leadership principles of Admiral Rickover, the father of the USA’s nuclear navy. Rickover was one of the United States Navy’s most controversial but overwhelmingly successful managers. Until now his management philosophy and leadership ethos has remained largely unknown. The book is short and sharp but, like Rickover’s words and deeds, is straight to the point.
With just 137 pages Against the Tide does not take long to read but it is packed full of useful material. For example the main ideas of Rickover’s 1954 speech to the Naval Postgraduate School (reproduced at Note 10 on p. 159) are a masterly succinct, relevant and very useful guide for managing people. Many of these ideas are now truisms although few are acted upon.
The author’s professional development and life experiences provide excellent case studies for Rickover’s leadership principles. His anecdotes are candid, forthright and memorable. Although the difficulties of cultural change within organisations such as the United States Navy are discussed, one of the book’s major achievements is that it is itself a catalyst for cultural change.
Those, like myself, who have experienced the Royal Australian Navy’s own attempts to manage its way through cultural changes – NQM, CSP, NGN and the like – will be well supplied with their own parallel anecdotes. One should consider whether the RAN’s recent methodologies have tended to replicate Admiral Elmo R Zumwalt’s mostly unsuccessful methods of implementing cultural change and ignored the alternative Rickover approach (see Chapter 12 for USN experience).
Oliver believes that Rickover’s leadership and management techniques could aid any manager, and that although his principles were there for all to see they tended to be lost in the astonishing story of his career. It is also interesting that Oliver states that there is residual resentment in the Navy and the defence industry revolving around the cultural changes forced by Rickover.
Throughout much of the book Rickover is idolized; however, Against the Tide also identifies flaws in Rickover’s personality. He was an introvert who did not get on well with others socially and he lacked command presence. Although he commanded a mine warfare vessel for a short period, Rickover never commanded a major war vessel, submarine or exercised an operational command. He gained fame as an extraordinary engineer and manager.
As with most things Rickover’s methods should not be treated as a checklist for successful management. In some ways his methods are too black and white, perhaps due to the very nature of nuclear engineering, however Rickover has much to offer. The success of his approach during the introduction of nuclear power to the USN reveals significant contradictions in many of the modern approaches to leadership and management.
Against the Tide is well named. It reveals an astonishing alternative leadership approach that continues to instil a successful management culture within the USN’s nuclear powered submarine forces to this very day. However, outside the submarine community such management methods are considered against the tide of common practice.
Against the Tide is highly recommended for anyone wishing to better understand our modern era of continuous cultural evolution and is looking for alternatives.

Published 15 February 2015 in Australian Naval Institute

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