Bibliography - Suggestions on British Naval History
It is possible to buy literal tonnes of books on the First World
War Royal Navy, many of which are well worth reading. It might
be useful to have a couple of places to start:
- From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow, by Arthur J. Marder.
This five volume collection, published by Oxford University Press
between 1961 and 1978 (the revised volume on Jutland) is one of the
first serious studies, based on Admiralty documents, of the
post-1900 development of the RN and its conduct of the war. Despite
its wealth of detail, it is also good reading. However, some of
Marder's analysis has been superseded by later research:-
- Sir John Fisher's Naval Revolution, by Dr. Nicholas Lambert.
University of South Carolina Press, 1999. This new look at Admiral
Fisher's ultimate goals combines study of the British financial picture
with the developments in technology to provide what is probably a
better picture than Marder's battleship-centric depiction of the Admiralty.
Essential reading, in fact.
If you are interested in a detailed, technical, description of
British warships, then the series by David K. Brown, former Deputy
Chief Naval Architect of the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors
is a key source:
- Before the Ironclad (Conway Maritime Press, 1990)
describes the transition from sail to steam
- Warrior to Dreadnought(Chatham Publishing, 1997)
the ancestry of the ship types, and in some cases the
vessels themselves, that served in the First World War
- The Grand Fleet (Chatham Publishing, 1999)
The source on the Dreadnought Battlefleet, as well
as the supporting warships.
There was one climatic battle during the dreadnought era: Jutland,
31 May 1916. Inconclusive but bloody just the same. A good introduction,
if you can find it, is:
- Jutland 1916 by John Costello and Terry Hughes (Futura
Publications and George Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1976). Well illustrated,
well written, it is a very good narration of the Battle.
Once you get a grasp of the Jutland essentials, there are two
good recent analyses:
- Jutland - An Analysis of the Fighting by John Campbell
(Conway Maritime Press, 1986) for what is practially a shell-by-shell
description, for those interested in the technicalities and
- The Rules of the Game by Dr. Andrew Gordon (John Murry,
1996) to get a better understanding of why the Royal Navy
fought and acted as it did.
Last Updated: 21 November, 1999
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