Bibliography - Suggestions on United States Naval History

The following, quoted by permission of the authors, appeared on the MARHST-L list, and provide useful pointers to sources on the history of the United States Navy during the First World War.

29 September 1998, Keith Allen (KEACLA1@AOL.COM)

There are many general histories of the USN that cover World War I, and there were a fair number of books on U.S. naval operations written shortly after the war. But are not many recent, reasonably available books of which I am aware. truth the U.S. Navy's role in the First World War, while of some importance, was not terribly dramatic, with little combat--e.g. U.S. destroyers sank only one U-boat, and only two major U.S. combatants--armored cruiser SAN DIEGO and destroyer JACOB JONES--were lost in the war. The USN role in the First War does not attract too many historians.

I don't know of any comprehensive history of the U.S. Navy in the World War, except perhaps for Admiral Sims's memoir, "Victory at Sea" (I haven't read it yet, but it is well regarded). In 1942 Elting Morison published "Admiral Sims and the Modern American Navy," about Sims's role before, during, and after the war; it has come under some criticism for overglorifying him.

Some books written in the decade or so after the war that might be worth a look are: Tracy Kittredge, "Naval Lessons of the Great War" (about the controversies and Congressional hearings on the naval conduct of the war, the disputes between Navy Secretary Daniels and the admirals, etc.); "The Bridge to France," by Edward Hurley of the Emergency Fleet Corporation, on the merchant shipbuilding program; and William Bell Clark, "When the U-boats Came to America." There is one called "Brittany Patrol," I think about U.S. subchaser operations; I don't know the author off-hand.

A few more recent books: Mary Klachko wrote a biography of William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations and adversary of Admiral Sims. David Trask, well- known historian of the Spanish-American War and First World War, wrote "Captains and Cabinets," about USN-Royal Navy relations during the war. Just recently the Naval Institute published Jerry Jones's "U.S. Battleship Operations in World War I," a slim book that was probably a P.h.D thesis, but also appears to have much interesting material on U.S. battleship operations with the Grand Fleet--which did not involve any combat, but were significant in the development of U.S. battle fleet tactics and materiel.

There probably is, and certainly should be, something on the North Sea mine barrage. There was an excellent article in "Warship International" in about 1989 on the sweeping of the mine barriers after the war.

For technical histories, Norman Friedman's design histories of U.S. ships are excellent. I believe some years ago Paul Silverstone published a book on U.S. warships of the First World War. ["editor's note": yes, he did: U. S. Warships of World War I, by Ian Allen - an extremely useful listing.]

There are undoubtedly many other books concerned in whole or in part with U.S. naval operations in the Great War; I hope this helps a little.

30 September 1998, William Schleihauf (

Additional to Keith Allen's post, you might want to have a look at the recent "US Battleship Operations in World War 1" by Jerry W. Jones (Naval Institute Press 1998, ISBN 1-55750-411-3). It describes in some detail both the movements and *lessons learned* by the 6th Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet (ie the attached US battleships) and in addition, doesn't neglect the US battleships based in Ireland.

Last Updated: 20 September, 1999

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