Coast Guard Reading List
"Professional service is a fundamental expectation of all Coast Guard men and women. It requires a thorough understanding of contemporary issues facing our service, demonstration of effective leadership in our duties, and a strong appreciation of our heritage. The Coast Guard Reading List helps us maintain this desired attribute by providing a common learning experience built on relevant topics, some selected by our Service’s senior leaders, others recommended by our Shipmates." - ADM Bob Papp
The Coast Guard Reading List provides recommended books related to leadership, Coast Guard history and culture, and contemporary issues. The list is not all-inclusive; the goal is to provide a starting point or expand existing knowledge and skills. This list has been transformed into a living reading list that will be updated as soon as new additions are approved.
The reading list is not limited to non-fiction books. It can also include fictional books and book series that are crafted with a good portrayal of maritime service and heritage in the characters and settings. Additionally, we may consider other forms of media, and specifically movies, where the authenticity, decorum and plot lend themselves to further our common professional knowledge.
The reading list provides a tool for individual professional growth, taking into account that responsibility for professional development rests simultaneously on each individual, his or her unit, and our service.
Coast Guard Reading List is a "living" list allowing new additions to be added throughout the year rather than only once per year. New book nominations may be submitted by any CG flag (including reserve flags), any CG SES, MCPOCG, MCPO-CGRF, and the USCGAUX National Commodore. Recommendations from other Team Coast Guard members must be endorsed by one of the previously mentioned nominating authorities, via their chain of command. Nominations approved by the Commandant will be immediately added to the reading list.
Print the Reading List in pdf format (no images)
Books 24x7, one of the largest online book resources offering unobstructed access to the complete unabridged contents of thousands of the latest and best business and technology books. To access the site please visit CG Portal, click on "Training & Education" then "Skillsoft" then "Books24x7"). To view the Books24x7 Quick Reference Guide click here.
Books not available on SkillSoft can be purchased or talk to your unit's purchasing office for alternative vendors.
Since 2002, the Commandant selects one book annually as the "Commandant's Choice" for professional reading.
The Finest Hours, by Michael J. Tougias(ISBN: 1416567224)
On February 18, 1952, New England was battered by a brutal nor'easter and the freezing Atlantic became a zone of peril with 70-knot winds and 60-foot seas. Two old oil tankers, the Pendleton and the Fort Mercer, proved no match for the storm and both were torn in half just off Cape Cod.
The Finest Hours highlights the captivating, true story of the valiant attempt of four Coast Guardsmen aboard the rescue surfboat CG36500 to overcome insurmountable odds and save the 32 stranded Pendleton sailors huddling inside the ship's stern section which was still afloat. The CG36500's crew, led by then-Petty Officer First Class Bernard Webber, conducted what is arguably the most dramatic rescue ever undertaken by the Coast Guard.
All four Coast Guardsmen were awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal for their proficiency and heroic actions in extreme conditions. In 2012 the Coast Guard commissioned the cutter BERNARD C. WEBBER, the lead ship in the Sentinel Class cutter fleet, in honor of the heroic boat coxswain. (Note: A young adult version -- age 10-16 -- is also available as The Finest Hours: The True Story of a Heroic Sea Rescue).
Bearing Drift, by Peter Eident (ISBN: 1450765327)
35 years ago on October 20, 1978, the 125-ft training vessel USCGC CUYAHOGA collided with a 521-foot freighter while underway near the mouth of the Potomac River. Following the collision, CUYAHOGA sank, killing 11 Coast Guardsmen in one of the worst peacetime accidents in Coast Guard history. The author, who was standing watch on the bridge as CUYAHOGA was rammed and sank, explores a Coast Guardsman's intricate relationship with the sea and seeks meaning in the loss of his shipmates, an event he vividly recalls. Bearing Drift is about heroism and mistakes, and how the fatal mishap forever changed the author and the Coast Guard itself. Along with the USCGC BLACKTHORN collision 15 months later, the catastrophic sinking of the CUYAHOGA caused the Coast Guard to recommit itself to proficiency and reexamine the requirements for training, qualification standards and bridge manning requirements. A captivating tribute to the "long blue line" of shipmates who gave their last full measure of devotion in service of our country.
Fire on the Beach: Recovering the Lost Story of Richard Etheridge and the Pea Island Lifesavers, by David Wright & David Zoby (ISBN 0195154843)
Fire on the Beach recovers a lost gem of
American history. It tells the story of the U.S. Life-Saving
Service, formed in 1871 to assure the safe passage of American and
international shipping and to save lives and salvage cargo. A
century ago, the adventures of the now-forgotten “surfmen” who, in
crews of seven, bore the brunt of this dangerous but vital duty
filled the pages of popular reading material, from Harper’s to the
Baltimore Sun and New York Herald. Station 17, located on the
desolate beaches of Pea Island, North Carolina, housed one such
unit, and Richard Etheridge—the only black man to lead a lifesaving
crew—was its captain.
The Skipper & The Eagle, by Gordon McGowan (ISBN 978-0-930248-09-3)
In 1996, then-Captain Robert J. Papp, Jr., took command of USCG Barque Eagle, the US Coast Guard’s sail-training vessel. Shortly after assuming command, he was to take the Eagle on a historic journey to Hamburg, on the 50th anniversary of the Eagle’s inaugural journey to the US from Germany. Capt. Papp was eager to learn as much as he could about those early chapters from the Eagle’s history, and he set out to find a copy of The Skipper and the Eagle, the memoir of the
Eagle’s first commanding officer, but soon discovered that the book was out of print. Capt. Papp’s search inspired Howard Slotnick of the National Maritime Historical Society to set the wheels in motion for a new edition of the book, published by Sea History Press in 1998.
Rescue Warriors: The U.S. Coast Guard, America's Forgotten Heroes, by David Helvarg (ISBN: 978-0312363727)
Since its founding more than two hundred years
ago, the United States Coast Guard has rescued over a million
people. On any given day, “Coasties” respond to 125 distress calls
and save over a dozen lives. Yet despite having more than 50,000
active-duty and reserve members on every ocean and on our nation’s
coasts, great lakes, and rivers, most of us know very little about
this often neglected but crucial branch of the military.