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The French Fleet: Ships, Strategy and Operations 1870 - 1918  -  Stanglini & Cosentino

The French Fleet: Ships, Strategy and Operations 1870 - 1918 - Stanglini & Cosentino

This is a physically large book, just over 1.6 kg, and from a couple of authors I’ve not come across before, but looking at their profiles on Amazon, I’d guess that they know their subject. – Cosentino is a retired Italian Naval Commodore.

Due to the size and weight of the book, I found it impossible to read in bed, which is my preferred way of reading. Instead, I was ‘forced’ to sit in my comfortable old fireside armchair sipping a rather good single malt. Book reviewing is such hard work, believe me!

The book is published by Seaforth, which is an imprint of Pen & Sword; however, this book has none of the usual vices of Pen & Sword books. It’s readable, informative and has pictures inserted alongside the text. However, I am not quite happy with the 3 columns per page layout. OK, this is purely personal and a bit of a petty gripe, but I’d have been a lot happier with a 2 column layout. The book is made up of high-quality paper, which to be fair, at the price it is, I’d expect. Currently priced at £34.45 on Amazon, the book is reduced from its RRP of £45.

The photographs used in the book are mostly of very good quality and relevant. Many photographs from this era are blurry, faded and often lacking detail. This cannot be said for the majority of the pictures used here.

Unfortunately, there is no references section, so I couldn’t properly verify the ‘facts’ and statements presented. I must admit that I find this a little ‘naughty’ in a book like this, though I didn’t spot any glaring errors. However, a brief bibliography and footnotes inserted into the chapters mitigate this oversight to a small extent. Yet without full referencing, the claim that this is ‘the first ever complete overview of the French fleet and it covers in detail the ships and their weapons, the organisation of the fleet and the building programmes that sustained it’ is unverifiable. And my own knowledge is woefully insufficient to challenge the claim.

Submarines and torpedo boats are what really interest me, and with a chapter on the former and two chapters on the latter, the book didn’t disappoint. However, it was the very first chapter on French Foreign Policy (1871 to 1914) that caught my interest. This might be because my own history knowledge really starts with WW1 in Europe and some of what I gleaned here helped me understand the background to what was simply presented to me as ‘fact’ when I was at school.

I’m going to run to 4 anchors on this book. It kept my interest throughout the read and I feel that I learned something from it, perhaps a lot more than I first realised. I also think that at the reduced price it offers a reasonably fair deal.

Just an aside, the cat seemed to take an interest in this book, nudging around it and sitting on it every time it was put down. I assume some chemicals used in the production process interested her?

french fleet.jpg

Link to Amazon