The Dreadnoughts, by David Armine Howarth (ed.)

February 16, 2011 at 22:46 (Book Reviews, Highly Rated Books, Historical, Twentieth Century, War) (, , , )


As so many Time Life books, The Dreadnoughts is incredibly pretty, and stacked with beautiful watercolour paintings, detailed watercolour technical drawings, and hyperbolic, over-excited editorialising. It was surprising to find, however, a competent, insightful and almost comprehensive summary of the Dreadnought’s history, with useful comparisons to make on both that ship’s predacessors and successors.

Due obviously to rather more impressively artistic material remaining to harried researchers than, say, the companion books on piracy or the Viking longboats, the editors manage to trim down significantly their reliance on cheaply-produced and prettily-printed illustrations, opting instead for awe-inspiring photographs blown up until fuzzy, and contemporary drawings that retain considerable character, and have their own small histories to be told, quite besides the events they depict.

If anything is lacking, it is a treatment of Dreadnought-class cruisers from navies other than the British and Germans, but as these were the nations that pioneered, fought and doomed the Dreadnoughts, it is perfectly understandable to have such a Eurocentric angle. The miniature biographies of significant men like Fisher, Hipper, Scheer, Tirpitz and others are also welcome pointers to further reading.

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