Book Review: The Great War at Sea: A Naval History of the First World War


by Lawrence Sondhaus

Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014. Pp. x, 408. Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. $34.99. ISBN: 1107036909

A Comprehensive Look at the Naval Side of the World War

Although a number of recent works have dealt with naval operations during the Great War, Prof. Sondhaus (Indianapolis), author of several works on the Great War and naval warfare, notably World War I: The Global Revolution, makes a particularly valuable contribution to the literature of the war at sea. 

Sondhaus’s theme is the centrality of the naval war to the ultimate Allied victory.  And rather than, as is frequently the case, focus almost entirely on Anglo-German naval operations, Sondhaus offers much more detailed coverage of the other, much neglected, naval theatres such as the Baltic, the Black, and the Adriatic Seas, where some impressive, if barely known, actions took place.

Sondhaus manages to integrate strategic, technical, and operational matters into a smooth narrative, and touches upon the influence of radio, aviation, and economics. He also gives us a look at a number of relatively little known yet able naval officers, such as Russia’s Kolchak and Austria-Hungary’s Horthy. 

An unusually rich work, The Great War at Sea offers an excellent read to anyone interested in naval history, and an essential one for students of the Great War.

Reviewer: A.A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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