Between Land and Sea: A Nonfiction Tom Clancy-type Book

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By Doug Stauffer

Rear Admiral Philip Dur’s rare combination of intellect, military expertise and true patriotism helped shape this country during the Cold War and post-Cold War eras. He has a deep knowledge of naval operations at sea and this nation’s national security affairs. His career as a surface warfare officer specializing in national policy helped him funnel his Cold War experiences into the geo-political environment. Imagine rising from the rank of ensign to flag officer to serve at the highest levels in the Navy and the U.S. government’s executive branch – that’s Phil Dur!

His book, “Between Land and Sea,” offers the reader a front-row seat to 30 years of American and world military and diplomatic history. This fact-based analysis and reflection centers around the national security bureaucracy and operating at sea throughout the Cold War.

Read about challenges commanding ships and a Carrier Battle Group and strategy and policy assignments, including leading the Navy’s strategy division and serving as Director of Political-Military Affairs on the NSC staff, advising and briefing President Ronald Reagan on critical events in the Middle East. Discover opportunities overseas, such as the admiral’s assignment as a U.S. Defense attaché in Paris, working with the highest levels of the French national security establishment as the Cold War ended and as War erupted in the Persian Gulf.

Dur witnessed history and had a hand in shaping its course! From growing up in post-WW2 Europe and Japan, through historical events including the behind-the-scenes views of the attack on USS Liberty, the gun line off Vietnam, the Reagan White House and more, he was on the scene, not as an observer, but as an engaged and aggressive participant and contributor.

Dur participated in the last great act of the Cold War: a serious and intentional bumping of his command ship, the USS Yorktown, by the Russian Navy during maneuvers in the Black Sea. This confrontation was one of those cat-and-mouse events that could have started World War III.

As a flag officer, he was the chief architect of the Navy’s strategy. His story provides a concise description of the Navy’s role in the Cold War from the 1960s to its end with the fall of the Soviet Union. His seat at the table during most of the critical events of that period offers an insightful perspective of policy formation and execution.

This book is highly relevant and essential reading today for anyone seeking to understand the current European security environment, including the Russian-Ukranian conflict. As someone completely unfamiliar with the workings of the Navy, reading about his command of two great warships – a destroyer and a cruiser – was mind-boggling and fascinating. “Between Land and Sea” is a must-read for those interested in a better understanding of military, political and national security issues. It’s fast-moving, a real page-turner, very well-written and hard to put down.

Vice Admiral Doug Crowder, USN (Ret.), former Commander, U.S. Seventh Fleet, reviewed the book as follows: “If you have loved Tom Clancy’s novels of Cold War intrigue, military operations, grand strategy, and political policy making, then you will enjoy Admiral Philip Dur’s new book, Between Land & Sea.

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