The Great War at Sea

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  • Author:
    Marcus Faulkner
    Subtitled ‘A Naval Atlas 1914 - 1919’ this book is just that. It is absolutely beautifully produced - well done, Seaforth - and carries an introduction by Andrew Lambert that summarises the naval part of the conflict. This alone is a masterly analysis and exposition of sea power, emphasising the attritional nature of naval war and how set-piece battles may happen, but are not the aim. He explains how Germany had lost the war before they even started it and how this led inexorably into the massive war crime of the U-Boat campaign.

    There are 164 pages of maps of theatres of war and track charts of particular actions, chronologically arranged from the very start of the war to the scuttling of the defeated German fleet at Scapa, each year opening with a tour d’horizon of the year’s events and campaigns. Each map or diagram is accompanied by a description of the activity depicted. Peter Wilkinson’s standard of draughtsmanship and presentation is extraordinarily high. Every theatre of war is covered and the detail is exhaustive. However even a magnificent tour de force like this cannot be everywhere; for instance the conquest of German Cameroon is omitted although it was supported from the sea and in riverine operations by the Royal Navy, and British submarine operations in the Baltic are only covered for 1915.

    The same team produced a similar work on the Second World War three years ago. Will this one fit your bookcase? Dimensions are 13” x 9½”. There is a useful bibliography and a set of campaign references from the National Archives. This work is a necessary and not merely a useful addition to the reference library of any student of maritime war, particularly the Kaiser’s War, fit to lie in the line with Marder, Halpern and Jane’s.

    I gave this five anchors on Navy-Net. It certainly deserves the equivalent for anyone on ARRSE interested in naval history.

    Here's the link for the WW2 equivalent:

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  1. panzermeyer
    Thank for this review, certainly sounds a likely purchase for me. I am absolutely fascinated with the naval aspect of WW1, from the running battle at Jutland to small scale / obscure engagements such as occurred at the Rufiji Delta. I have built up quite a personal library on this aspect of WW1 with a particular emphasis on the raiding fleet of the Kaiser's Imperial Navy. There are some really fascinating stories therein, recounted in very engaging historical analysis.
      Hoverpot likes this.