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Brand: Duncan Redford & Philip Grove

Royal Navy Since 1900

by Duncan Redford & Philip Grove

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The Royal Navy : A History Since 1900

Since 1900, the Royal Navy has seen vast changes to the way it operates. This book tells the story, not just of defeats and victories, but also of how the navy has adjusted to over 100 years of rapid technological and social change. The navy has changed almost beyond recognition since the far-reaching reforms made by Admiral Fisher at the turn of the century.

Fisher radically overhauled the fleet, replacing the nineteenth-century wooden crafts with the latest in modern naval technology, including battleships (such as the iconic dreadnoughts), aircraft carriers and submarines. In World War I and World War II, the navy played a central role, especially as unrestricted submarine warfare and supply blockades became an integral part of twentieth-century combat. However it was the development of nuclear and missile technology during the Cold War era which drastically changed the face of naval warfare - today the navy can launch sea-based strikes across thousands of miles to reach targets deep inland.

This book navigates the cross currents of over 100 years of British naval history. As well as operational issues, the authors also consider the symbolism attached to the navy in popular culture and the way naval personnel have been treated, looking at the changes in on-board life and service during the period, as well as the role of women in the navy. In addition to providing full coverage of the Royal Navy's wartime operations, the authors also consider the functions of the navy in periods of nominal peace - including disaster relief, diplomacy and exercises.

Even in peacetime the Royal Navy had a substantial role to play. Covering the whole span of naval history from 1900 to the present, this book places the wars and battles fought by the navy within a wider context, looking at domestic politics, economic issues and international affairs. It will be essential reading for anyone interested in naval history and operations, as well as military history more generally.

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Staff Reviews

This work, published by I.B. Tauris in conjunction with the National Museum of the Royal Navy, is part of a multi-volume set covering the history of the navy from the 1660s to the present day. Three volumes (including the one under review) cover wide periods of that history, supplemented by shorter volumes focussing in on particular themes or conflicts. Redford is a senior research fellow at the National Museum itself, while Grove is an expert in Strategic Studies at Britannia Royal Naval College, so they are well placed to produce an authoritative and wide-ranging history. The volume does not disappoint. Beginning with the end of the Pax Britannica, it explores the technical developments that preceded WW1, and then devotes two chapters to the Great War itself. It was pleasing to see that the work did not neglect the inter-war years, but devoted instead a whole chapter to those, before exploring the second war in detail across three chapters. A two-chapter analysis of the role of the Navy in the Cold War follows, before a final chapter covering the period from 1989 to 2001. An epilogue brings the work right up-to-date. The book is beautifully produced and clearly laid out, with a number of well-chosen and informative photographs, figures and illustrations. A large set of references and bibliography provides plenty of further material for those wanting to explore themes or issues in more detail. Not being a navy expert myself, I occasionally found some of the detailed information a little inaccessible, but here again a well-placed graph or table often helped to illuminate the subject matter. This is a well-produced and well-written guide to the Royal Navy in the twentieth century, and recommended for those that want to explore the themes and conflicts that have shaped its development during that period. Simon Gregor Friends of The National Archives. http://nationalarchives.gov.uk/get-involved/friends.htm Friends of The National Archives