Author and renowned historian Arthur J. Marder (1910-1980) was Emeritus Professor of History, at the University of California. Born in Boston and with a degree from Harvard, he was attracted to English history and the Haldane Mission of 1912 on which he wrote his distinction thesis before concentrating on British naval history. His was one of the most distinguished careers as an historian of the modern British navy where even established British sources expressed astonishment at the calibre and excellence of his work! He had several outstanding qualities from which we are all able to benefit. One of these was his mastery of the complexities of serious research. That he succeeded - and the extent to which he succeeded, however, became legendary. Added to this was a natural ability to translate those facts, figures and knowledge into the most readable accounts one might ever read. In short, this author set new standards within his chosen profession.
Amongst other works, he produced a five-volume book which covers one of the most important eras of British naval history - namely the years 1904-1919, during which the dominant force was Admiral of the Fleet Sir John Fisher - frequently described as the architect of the modern Royal Navy. Volume I of this historic book fully explains that history from 1904-1914 and this, Volume II, takes up the story and continues to 1916 and the eve of the Battle of Jutland. Volumes III and IV are scheduled to appear in early 2014. Altogether, I would suggest this series of books can be described as the definitive work on the subject and do so very much to explain this important period of world history.
As with Vol. I, this is another thick book (1½ inches or 38 mm) and contains over 460 tightly packed pages plus a further ten devoted to maps. With very few images at all (a few notable personalities of the day), this book, once again, concentrates on information - all of which is put together in a most readable style.
From the very beginning, Marder sets the scene with incredible style. Chapter One is in two segments with the first being devoted to Britain's geographical advantage and the constitution of main battle fleets of the day. The second concentrates on the influential personalities - including politicians, senior admirals and sea going commanders with a fascinating comparison of British and German officers.
Successive chapters deal with; the Mediterranean, home waters, threat of invasion, submarine menace, defects and fiascos, a revolution in Whitehall - where Churchill and Battenberg were held to blame, the restoration of Jackie Fisher, actions at Coronel and the Falklands, Baltic strategy, Heligoland, Dardanelles (campaign, failure and post-mortem), the Balfour-Jackson years with a new Board of Admiralty, Mediterranean, U Boats, and so forth right up to the eve of the famously indecisive Battle of Jutland where the commanders of the two largest navies in the modern world conducted their naval strategies with the same objectives (i.e. crossing the enemy's T) as Nelson over 100 years earlier!
As I said in my review for Vol. I, with such significant developments in naval technology taking place at the same time of such unrest, it is only by reading this outstanding account of what exactly happened that one begins to understand the scope of the entire work - for which no pedestal exists to adequately demonstrate the sheer excellence of this work.
It really is that good.