Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Dreadnought and Castles of Steel

Not much activity of late, other than to to say that, what with my various travels and what not, I have finally had time to finish both volumes of the really rather splendid two-parter - Robert K Massie's twin tomes: Dreadnought and Castles of Steel.
The first deals with the origins of the naval rivalry between the British and German Empires and certainly doesn't portray the Germans/Prussians in a very good light.  As you would imagine, there's also some good stuff on the naval side of the Russo-Japanese War.

What I did find fascinating was the very real concern about Germany's ambitions expressed in Britain and the anticipation that there would be a war eventually.  This to me was interesting as it tied in very nicely with Esrkine Childers' The Riddle of the Sands, which deals with exactly the issue of a supposed build up of German naval forces in the waters around the German islands off East Friesland, poised to invade England.... in 1902.  A fantastic book if you're into sailing, by the way.
The next installment, Castles of Steel, covering the consequence of the development of HMS Dreadnought, Churchill, Jackie Fisher, Tirpitz, U-boats and the whole naval history of the lead up to and progress of the First World War, is great and certainly provides the definitive account of those naval actions.
I am particularly interested in the early action including the Emden, Coronel and the Battle of the Falklands and there is plenty of information on that in this book.

Anyway, both books are a darn good read and I'd also highly recommend The Riddle of the Sands as a ripping yarn in the mould of John Buchan or Rider Haggard (except with much more stuff about the technicalities of sailing without modern instruments).

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