Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Best Books on the Naval War, 1914-1918: A Reading List

Night Action

Contributed by naval historian Steve McLaughlin and the editors. Steve is the author of Russian and Soviet Battleships (Naval Institute Press, 2003) and co-author, with the late R.D. Layman, of The Hybrid Warship (Naval Institute Press, 1991). He has written extensively on the Russian and Soviet navies for the journals Warship (London) and Warship International. He is currently working on a study of the development of tactics in the Royal Navy, 1900-1918, and regularly contributes articles to Roads to the Great War.

****All of these works can be ordered from Amazon by**** clicking on the links down below.

1. Room 40: British Naval Intelligence 1914-18

Patrick Beesly, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1982. An indispensible history of how Room 40 broke the German naval codes and engineered the revelation of the Zimmermann Telegram.

2. The Fighting at Jutland: Personal Experiences of Sixty Officers and Men of the British Fleet

H.W. Fawcett & G.W.W. Hooper, Naval Institute Press, 2001. Originally published in 1920, this book brings provides a vivid account of the greatest battle between dreadnought fleets by stitching together Royal Navy eyewitness accounts.

3. The Rules of the Game: Jutland and British Naval Command

Andrew Gordon, Naval Institute Press, 1996. A fascinating, lively, and massive investigation into British naval command both at Jutland and in the two decades that preceded the battle. Required reading for all students of the Great War at sea

4.  A Naval History of World War I

Paul G. Halpern, Naval Institute Press, 1994. Undoubtedly the best one-volume history of the war at sea, covering the activities of all the navies in all the theaters.

5.  The Naval War in the Mediterranean, 1914-1918 

Paul G. Halpern, Naval Institute Press, 1987. There was far more to the naval war in the Mediterranean than the chase of the and the disaster of the Dardanelles, and Halpern covers every aspect of it, including Japan's effort.

6. Luxury Fleet: The Imperial Germany Navy, 1888-1918 

Holger H. Herwig, Allen & Unwin, 1980. An overview of the German Navy by a leading scholar of Imperial Germany.

7. Naval Aviation in the First World War  

R.D. Layman, Naval Institute Press, 1996. The final work of the late Great War Society member, this is a probing examination of the role and impact of aviation in the war at sea.

8. From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow: The Royal Navy in the Fisher Era, 1904-1919

Arthur J. Marder, Oxford University Press, 1961-1970. Still a brilliant history of the Royal Navy in all theaters, encompassing both policy and operations; its account of Jutland is one the most balanced and incisive.

9. The Russian Revolution and the Baltic Fleet: War and Politics, February 1917-April 1918

Evan Mawdsley, Barnes and Noble Books, 1978. An investigation into the causes underlying the collapse of the Russian Navy and its last battles.

10. Find and Destroy: Antisubmarine Warfare in World War I

Dwight R. Messimer, Naval Institute Press, 2001. An intriguing look at the U-boat war, focusing on anti-submarine measures; the author reaches the conclusion that the most effective weapon against the U-boat was diplomacy.

11.  The Naval Policy of Austria-Hungary, 1867-1918: Navalism, Industrial Development

Lawrence Sondhaus, Purdue University Press, 1994. A groundbreaking study of one of the most overlooked navies of the Great War.

12. The Starvation Blockades: Naval Blockades of WWI

Nigel Hawkins, Naval Institute Press, 2003.  While their armies tried to break the stalemate in the trenches in France, the navies of Britain and Germany were locked in a struggle to win the war by destroying each other's commerce and starving their opponent into submission. 

1 comment:

  1. Rules of the Game actually covers the eleven decades preceding Jutland, showing how seemingly minor matters such as progress in signals and promotion policies resulted in a major change in leadership in the Royal Navy. It is an important lesson in leadership and organization and I put it on my personal list of the ten most important books on military history