In To Rule the Waves, Bruce D. Jones attempts to adapt [Alfred] Mahan’s thinking to the 21st century. In prose much livelier than his predecessor’s, Mr. Jones places the oceans at the center of modern globalization ... Mr. Jones has managed to write an important book about foreign policy without delivering an impenetrable tome. He handles his reporting deftly, keeping the reader engaged.
Bruce Jones has written an excellent primer on the role of seaborne commerce in creating our global economy and the challenge of keeping the oceans a 'global commons' open to the free transit of goods ... The author begins with a comprehensive historical examination of the relationship between global trade, sea power, and the rise of maritime hegemons like Great Britain and the United States. Jones then takes the reader around the globe to explain why freedom of the seas and secure global shipping is so important to sustaining not only the American economy but the entire international order ... Understanding the economic and political impacts of the complex mix of nationalism, environmental impacts, and economic pressures is crucial for recognizing the actions of major players such as China and the United States in this global commons.
The book is marred by small errors...but the author’s points are well taken, especially when he warns that China 'is fast becoming a fuller maritime power than the United States,' with implications for political relations in years to come. Knowledgeable and wonky, largely of interest to policy planners.