Book Review: Fighting the Great War at Sea: Strategy, Tactics and Technology

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by Norman Friedman

Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2014. Pp. 416. Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. $85.00. ISBN: 1591141885

The Nuts and Bolts of Naval Operations in the Great War

In another of his large, well-illustrated, and excellent works on modern naval warfare and technology, Dr. Friedman gives us an in-depth look at how the navies of the World War I went about their business. 

Friedman opens with a concise review of the background to the war and the development of naval policies and strategy through its outbreak in the summer of 1914. He then follows this with two valuable chapters on the usually neglected subjects of the financial and industrial institutions that paid for and built the fleets, with discussions of economic warfare and the blockade, and how the fleets were financed and maintained. 

Then come individual chapters on the expectations of the various navies as to how a war would unfold, the nature of the fleets, the naval geography of the principal maritime theaters, fleet tactics, battleships and battlecruisers, coastal operations, mine warfare, and several on various aspects of the U-boot war. Although one would have expected a separate chapter on aviation, airplanes and airships, Friedman covers them as appropriate in many chapters, since they very quickly became integral to operations of all types. 

Although he naturally deals primarily with the British and German navies, the largest and most active in the war, Friedman provides some coverage of the other fleets, particularly where new or interesting developments were involved. He concludes the book with a look at lessons learned or not learned that would be of importance in the next great sea war.  

This is an immensely valuable work for anyone interested in the Great War at sea or in naval warfare in general.

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Reviewer: A.A. Nofi, Review Editor   


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