Fighting the Great War at Sea, Strategy, Tactics and Technology

B2183

In reviewing books, there is sometimes a touch of despair. The cost of production, including the royalties to photographers and photo libraries frequently constrains authors and publishers. This new book is an example of an author and publisher who have refused to compromise and consequently produced a book which is outstanding in a field of good books. The downside is that there will be potential readers who would struggle to justify the cover price, even though it is an aggressive price for a book of this quality and a testament to the management of production in driving down costs without reducing the book’s quality. The publisher does run some amazing promotions and this is a book that must feature in those programs, opening it to a wider readership. The publisher has also been developing an extensive range of eBooks, into which this must eventually be added. However, those readers who can stretch to the cover price will be richly rewarded.

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NAME: Fighting the Great War at Sea, Strategy, Tactics and Technology
DATE: 180315
FILE: R2183
AUTHOR: Norman Friedman
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword, Seaforth
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 416
PRICE: £45.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWI, The Great War, 1914-1918, war at sea, tactics, naval architecture, naval engineering, strategy, technology, warships, Royal Navy
ISBN: 978-1-84832-216-5
IMAGE: B2182.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/o266cqa
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: In reviewing books, there is sometimes a touch of despair. The cost of production, including the royalties to photographers and photo libraries frequently constrains authors and publishers. This new book is an example of an author and publisher who have refused to compromise and consequently produced a book which is outstanding in a field of good books. The downside is that there will be potential readers who would struggle to justify the cover price, even though it is an aggressive price for a book of this quality and a testament to the management of production in driving down costs without reducing the book’s quality. The publisher does run some amazing promotions and this is a book that must feature in those programs, opening it to a wider readership. The publisher has also been developing an extensive range of eBooks, into which this must eventually be added. However, those readers who can stretch to the cover price will be richly rewarded.

WWI was a naval war of revolution. The numbers of new ship and aircraft types, and the introduction of radio communication, required major changes in tactics and permitted new strategies. The technology was often demanding, but the opportunities for navies that could meet the challenges was great.

From the start of WWI, the Royal Navy was able to launch the new locomotive torpedoes from major warships, fast torpedo boats, submarines and aircraft, the RNAS having successfully conducted the first drop of a torpedo from an aircraft four weeks before the start of WWI. The ability to launch torpedoes from all of these very different types of vehicle gave the RN many advantages, but the enemy was also able to field the torpedo, particularly from U-boats.

Naval aviation was very new but the RN was already adding carriers to its fleet and this was eventually to provide the option to launch pre-emptive strikes against enemy ships in port, using large numbers of aircraft equipped with bombs and torpedoes, launched from carriers cruising off the enemy coastline. Before the end of WWI, the RN not only had a growing fleet of aircraft-carrying vessels, including lighters towed behind fast destroyers, but had built fighter carrying airships and vessels designed from the start to carry naval aircraft into battle.

Communications were revolutionized by radio. For the first time, the Admiralty could communicate with ships and squadrons around the world. For the first time, a warship could sail on a mission without becoming blind to critical events that were known to the Admiralty. Communication was also possible between ships and naval aircraft. The world had shrunk dramatically. This ability to communicate enable the RN to also direction find enemy ships from their radio transmissions and accurately forecast some enemy actions from changes in radio traffic. This rapidly led into a contest between those producing encryption systems and those breaking them.

Against the static war of attrition on land, particularly on the Western Front, naval warfare was amazingly fast and flexible. For the first time it was truly global with actions in all oceans and most seas, including inland waters. Warships were carried in kit form and assembled on the shore of African lakes. German raiders sought refuge in rivers and were hunted by aircraft. Submarines preyed on convoys of merchant ships and the RN used large numbers of airships to shadow convoys, detecting and sinking German submarines. Some airship crews were airborne for days in a range of weather.

There were just so many ‘firsts’ in the war at sea and the RN managed to rise to the challenges across all of the new areas. The result is that this new book is encyclopedic. There is extensive text and a great many photographs and drawings. In a single book, it would be very hard to match the comprehensive coverage of this work. There will be areas were books of much narrower scope will be able to compete and offer more detailed insights. The nature of history also means that there will be some assertions that will be challenged, although not necessarily with success.

If there is criticism, it could be in the font size used throughout. It is entirely understandable that a publisher would use a smaller font size to avoid even more pages, increasing production cost. It is a size used in many books with less justification and it should not present a problem for most readers. The publisher is to be commended for committing resource to such a fine work that will become one of the key reference works for the naval warfare of WWI. The author has undertaken a considerable work and brought it to successful conclusion after an epic period of research

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