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The Great War at Sea

Subtitled ‘A Naval Atlas 1914 - 1919’ this book is just that. It is absolutely beautifully produced - well done, Seaforth - and carries an introduction by Andrew Lambert that summarises the naval part of the conflict. This alone is a masterly analysis and exposition of sea power, emphasising the attritional nature of naval war and how set-piece battles may happen, but are not the aim. He explains how Germany had lost the war before they even started it and how this led inexorably into the massive war crime of the U-Boat campaign.

There are 164 pages of maps of theatres of war and track charts of particular actions, chronologically arranged from the very start of the war to the scuttling of the defeated German fleet at Scapa, each year opening with a tour d’horizon of the year’s events and campaigns. Each map or diagram is accompanied by a description of the activity depicted. Peter Wilkinson’s standard of draughtsmanship and presentation is extraordinarily high. Every theatre of war is covered and the detail is exhaustive. However even a magnificent tour de force like this cannot be everywhere; for instance the conquest of German Cameroon is omitted although it was supported from the sea and in riverine operations by the Royal Navy, and British submarine operations in the Baltic are only covered for 1915.

The same team produced a similar work on the Second World War three years ago. Will this one fit your bookcase? Dimensions are 13” x 9½”. There is a useful bibliography and a set of campaign references from the National Archives. This work is a necessary and not merely a useful addition to the reference library of any student of maritime war, particularly the Kaiser’s War, fit to lie in the line with Marder, Halpern and Jane’s.

Five anchors.
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