Ideal companion for the WW I Navy buff,
Rezension bezieht sich auf: A Naval History of World War I (Gebundene Ausgabe)When I first read about this book I thought "oh no, not another one!" I'm glad I still bought (and read) it.
The First World War was caused by a naval arms race, and its outcome was decided on the high seas. However, besides the North Atlantic shipping lanes (and the battlefields of continental Europe) there were literally hundreds of other theaters where only navies traded shots. Much of this warfare has been forgotten and a book like Paul G. Halpern's "Naval History of World War I", going a long way to retrieve the lost histories, was overdue.
I was fascinated to read about the riverine war on the Danube, for instance, where the first and final shots of the war were fired. Equally fascinating were the stories about the operations in the Black Sea where, contrary to popular belief, the Germans and Turks never held an edge over the Russians. Little has been written on operations in the Baltic where the Russian Navy, again, was much more of a formidable opponent than is remembered today. And while much has been written about the war in the Mediterranean between 1940 and 1944, the fact that there was rather intense warfare in the Adriatic has escaped many, including this reviewer.
Obviously, the main theaters of the Naval war were the North Sea, English Channel, and the Western Approaches, and the book gives them due attention. Since there was so much action, about half the book is devoted to operations in these theaters.
Mr. Halpern restrains himself wisely to naval activities, giving fleeting attention to military and political activities only when it is essential to understand what happened and why. He brings across the main points determining the course of events, for example the issue of coaling (steamships needing hefty amounts of coal which limited their freedom of action to a degree unbeknownst to less-than-intimate naval adepts) or the fact that German naval activities usually were known to her opponents often before the ships were actually out of their bases. The level of detail is exactly right - not boring with too detailed descriptions of battles, and not leaving the reader ignorant of any important move a combattant made.
Halpern's book references other authors (the annotations really only holding source information) so anyone enticed by this reading to dig deeper into a certain subject can go to the sources quoted here.
All in all the ideal starting point for anybody who develops some interest in naval warfare of world war I, and a point of reference for the serious historian. Absolutely recommended.