Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
prmitch

Playing War: Wargaming and U.S. Navy Preparations for World War II

Recommended Posts

 

5aaa979283b82_lillardcover.jpg.3098bab366b7e1bfb536a9f3100bf777.jpg

Playing War: Wargaming and U.S. Navy Preparations for World War II
By John M. Lillard
Bethesda: Potomac Press, 2016
6-1/4” x 9-1/4”, hardcover, 210 pages
Illustrations, tables, appendices, notes, bibliography, index. $39.95
ISBN: 9781612347738

 

    John M. Lillard’s study of war games, aptly titled Playing War: Wargaming and U.S. Navy Preparations for World War II, dissects the players, game processes, and phases of wargaming during the interwar period. Wargaming proved to be a useful tool for the United States Navy in preparing for the naval battles of World War II. The wargames gave the Navy an upper hand, because they could predict movements of enemy ships based on the aforementioned games. In his attempt to prove if the war games and the Naval College had any historical agency, he delves into a previously under-explored topic. To prove his thesis, Lillard examines the impact of individual games and their players on the war effort, while also assessing the overall effects of wargaming through the inter-war period. Unlike historians such as Peter Perla and Michael Vlahos, Lillard reveals the significance of the war games to the development of technology and, ultimately, to the success of the United States Navy during World War II.


    Lillard first breaks down the Naval War College’s strategies and their assessments into sections. Using an assortment of charts, graphs, and images to support his thesis Lillard delivers the most in-depth study of war gaming to date. Through Lillard’s research, he found that war games were necessary to teach decision-making skills, as well as develop technology to advance the Navy. He uses speeches, diaries, and official records from the inter-war period as a primary basis for his argument. The downfall to Lillard’s sources is the focus on popular figures, such as Admiral Chester Nimitz, and the lack of voices from enlisted personnel. He does assess the data from the graduating classes, such as the number and type. He also shows the different fictional opponents throughout the wargames and provides graphics to aid in understanding for those without a military background.


    At times, Lillard’s argument seemed long-winded. The lack of representation by other scholars in reference to the war games could be because the argument can be summed up within a few pages. But, Lillard was able to redeem his work by providing stories that piqued the reader’s interest when facts became dull. His assessment of the early phase, from 1919 to 1927, is particularly interesting, especially when he delves into one of the later exercises in 1927. The class of 1927 worked through a game that focused on both land and sea objectives, with special situations thrown at them at every turn. The class had to adapt to changes given through the games, leading to further advancements in the games.


    Because Lillard uses individual games, his monograph has a narrative quality, aiding the readability of his work. While this history would be more aptly used by a military historian, the narrative aspect and the clear visual aids allow anyone to enjoy Lillard’s book. He determines that the Naval War College deserves agency within the historical context of preparations for battle, which he sums up nicely in the conclusion. Playing War is a well-written, well-researched, and well-received monograph adding a new facet to military history and the study of naval advancements.

 

Courtney Webb
University of West Florida

This review is provided courtesy of the Nautical Research Guild.

Edited by prmitch

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

About us

Modelshipworld - Advancing Ship Modeling through Research

SSL Secured

Your security is important for us so this Website is SSL-Secured

NRG Mailing Address

Nautical Research Guild
237 South Lincoln Street
Westmont IL, 60559-1917

About the NRG

If you enjoy building ship models that are historically accurate as well as beautiful, then The Nautical Research Guild (NRG) is just right for you.

The Guild is a non-profit educational organization whose mission is to “Advance Ship Modeling Through Research”. We provide support to our members in their efforts to raise the quality of their model ships.

The Nautical Research Guild has published our world-renowned quarterly magazine, The Nautical Research Journal, since 1955. The pages of the Journal are full of articles by accomplished ship modelers who show you how they create those exquisite details on their models, and by maritime historians who show you the correct details to build. The Journal is available in both print and digital editions. Go to the NRG web site (www.thenrg.org) to download a complimentary digital copy of the Journal. The NRG also publishes plan sets, books and compilations of back issues of the Journal and the former Ships in Scale and Model Ship Builder magazines.

Our Emblem

Modelshipworld - Advancing Ship Modeling through Research
×
×
  • Create New...