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The World of the Battleship, edited by Bruce Taylor

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THE WORLD OF THE BATTLESHIP

Bruce Taylor (Editor)

Seaforth Books, 2018

440 pages, 24.5 cm x 26.5 cm

Suggested Retail: GBP44.00

 

Verdict: It's a good read, as long as you aren't expecting it to be something it is not.

 

I have to say that this large, coffee-table book was not exactly what I expected after first seeing its title. That's not to say that it's a bad book, just something unexpected. First, this is a book about battleships, but it is not a book about battleships in general. Rather, the authors have chosen to focus on specific battleships to create their narrative.

 

The World of the Battleship consists of 21 chapters, each written by a different historian and dedicated to a discussion of a single battleship. Each warship is from a different country. In order to get 21 such ships, as you can imagine, the definition of the word "battleship" gets stretched a little bit. For this work, it is essentially an armored capital ship with 8" main guns or greater. The ships were chosen based on their historical significance for each country, and some are those the reader might predict, but others are initially surprising. Britain is represented by HMS Hood, which is a no-brainer, but Germany is not represented by DKM Bismarck. Instead, the book discusses DKM Scharnhorst on the basis of her more significant contributions to the German war effort. In a similar manner, Japan is not represented by IJN Yamato but IJN Nagato, the first Japanese battleship to significantly depart from British design principles. So, if you are interested in the ways in which individual warships impacted their respective nations' national identity, industrial development, international relations, and ability to wage war, this book might be for you.

 

If you are looking for a book to use as a modeling reference, you might not be as satisfied. The book is profusely illustrated with B&W photographs, but there are no line drawings, color plates, cutaways, or other visual references. If you are looking for a book that gives a broad treatment of what we more usually think of as battleships, i..e. dreadnoughts and super-dreadnoughts, with plenty of examples of each of the different classes, you probably will want to pass on this as well.

 

The ships covered in The World of the Battleship are:

Chen Yuen 1882 (China)

Garibaldi 1895 (Argentina)

Iena 1898 (France)

Eidsvold 1900 (Norway)

Slava 1903 (Russia)

Peder Skram 1908 (Denmark)

Minas Geraes 1908 (Brazil)

De Zeven Provincien 1909 (The Netherlands)

Georgios Averof 1910 (Greece)

Yavuz Sultan Selim 1911 (Turkey)

Viribus Unitis 1911 (Austria-Hungary)

Australia 1911 (Australia)

Almirante Latorre 1913 (Chile)

Alfonso XIII 1913 (Spain)

Sverige 1915 (Sweden)

Hood 1918 (Great Britain)

Nagato 1919 (Japan)

Vainamoinen 1930 (Finland)

Scharnhorst 1936 (Germany)

Littorio 1937 (Italy)

Missouri 1944 (United States)

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As one example of what you might expect to find in this book, here is an outline of the chapter on Chen Yuen.

 

I. Introduction

II. Origins

III. Design and Construction

IV. Service in the Peiyang Fleet

V. Shipboard Organisation

VI. Finance and Pay

VII. Life Aboard

VIII. Japan and the Peiyang Fleet

IX. (Service in) The Sino-Japanese War

X. The End of the Peiyang Fleet

XI. Prize of the Japanese Navy

XII. (Service in) The Russo-Japanese War

XIII. A Long Shadow (discusses historical significance to both China and Japan)

XIV. Conclusion

 

This chapter includes 20 b&w photographs and an inset biography of Philo McGiffin, an American-born naval officer who served on Chen Yuen at the Battle of the Yalu River in 1894.

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