Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Great War at Sea

The Great War at Sea: History of Naval Action 1914-1918
© 1965 A.A. Hoehling
346 pages

            The Great War is not called the first world war for nothing, taking place as it did not only across the sprawling expanse of Eurasia and Africa, but in the skies above and in the great oceans girding the continents. The Great War at Sea  is a narrative history of the naval war between the United Kingdom, Germany, and to a lesser extent the United States.Written in 1965, it’s a work definitely keyed toward popular audiences; though the author mentions sinking and shipping statistics, he focuses on blow-by-blow retellings of ship battles for which there exists plenty of record, relying on both British and German accounts. The narrative which knits these battle-tales together will render a general understanding of how the naval war unfolded,  including the stresses placed on the British and German economies by their attempted blockades.   The heavy use of dialogue and lively storytelling make it a quick read,  most suitable for a lay audience who don’t want to sink too deeply into details. The maps and illustrations included, however, are superb and would complement even more scholarly works; the battle diagrams are even artful.  As might be expected from a work produced in 1965, The Great War at Sea has a patriotic spirit, though the incorporation of German accounts removes bias.  He takes the attitude that both English and German sailors did their bit for king and country, dying noble deaths deserving of praise. It's a 'nice' history, but on the light side.

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