WWI Naval Bibliography

A review of The Rules of the Game by Dr. Andrew Gordon

(This review of The Rules of the Game was posted by Geoffrey Miller (gmiller@ozemail.com.au) on the WWI-L discussion list, 5 April, 1997).

I have just finished reading Gordon's "The Rules of the Game -Jutland and British Naval Command" ... and I could not agree more that it is an important book. It is remarkably easy to read and gives a complete idea of the battle and why things happened as they did. Gordon doesn't just confine himself to Jutland but goes back to the late Victorian Navy, and it's attitudes, and how these affected the Jutland protagonists. There is much of interest about Admiral Tryon in the 1890s and the burgeoning naval revolt, that died with Tryon's untimely death, against the clumsy and impracticable signal book that would have been impossible to use during a naval action . Gordon describes clearly the famous collision between the Camperdown and the Victoria, giving a reasonable explanation for this.

His description of the actual Battle of Jutland is, imo, quite masterly. Incidently, Gordon has a lot to say about Beatty's incompetent Flag Lieutenant, Ralph Seymour, and describes how Beatty supported him and promoted him to full Commander but then, after the war, turned on him when Seymour had the effrontery to wish to marry Lady Beatty's niece. Seymour eventually committed suicide;his story reveals the unpleasant side of Beatty's character.

There is an excellent account of the Jellicoe-Beatty controversy after the action, Gordon is at pains to discuss this dispassionately and takes neither side but gives the pros and cons admirably.

I concur with you that all with an interest in naval history should try and get hold of a copy.

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Last Updated: 6 April, 1997.