Against the Tide by Dave Oliver

English | ePUB | Pages: 192 | 744.10 kB

Against the Tide is a leadership book that illustrates how Adm. Hyman Rickover made a unique impact on American and Navy culture.

Dave Oliver is the first former nuclear submarine commander who sailed for the venerable admiral to write about Rickover’s management techniques. Oliver draws upon a wealth of untold stories to show how one man changed American and Navy culture while altering the course of history.

The driving force behind America’s nuclear submarine navy, Rickover revolutionized naval warfare while concurrently proving to be a wellspring of innovation that drove American technology in the latter half of the 20th-century. As a testament to his success, Rickover’s single-minded focus on safety protected both American citizens and sailors from nuclear contamination, a record that is in stark contrast to the dozens of nuclear reactor accidents suffered by the Russians.

While Rickover has been the subject of a number of biographies, little has been written about his unique management practices that changed the culture of a 200-year-old institution and affected the outcome of the Cold War.


Excellent description of Rickover and how he managed to affect cultural change in an organization quite resistant to change–the U.S. Navy. Oliver discusses what could be boring insights on managing people and process with irreverent insights, such as “Finally, return to rule one: never relax around a badger or an admiral” or “No matter how capable, deserved or well-entrenched a particular leader, another claimant is waiting just off-stage, impatient for their moment in the spotlight.

review by David Husband

Oliver mixes tales of the often-eccentric Rickover with genuine admiration for his leadership abilities, especially in the face of many adversities, such as the fabrication of Nautilus, building and maintaining the nuclear fleet during the Cold and Vietnam Wars, and his conflicts with high profile officers such as Admiral Elmo Zumwalt. Along the way, Oliver relates stories from his own naval career; examples of how he applied Rickover’s managerial principles. In summary, Against the Tide, illuminating on many levels, is a reasoned path toward understanding what made the complex Hyman Rickover such a special naval officer.

review by The Northern Mariner

From its highly appropriate title to its usefully extensive bibliography and first rate index, this comparatively small book is a great and valuable history. A personal but excellent and important biography.

review by Ausmarine Magazine