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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb deductive history, 10 Aug. 2009
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Peter L. N. Padfield "Peter Padfield" (Woodbridge, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Naval Firepower: Battleship Guns and Gunnery in the Dreadnought Era: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates (Hardcover)
This is a highly technical description of the development of fire control systems for main armament of the major navies of the twentieth century; as such it takes some concentrated reading; It is not for the faint-hearted. It is, however, an essential text for naval historians and anyone wishing to understand naval battles in the dreadnought era, since Friedman succeeds in establishing the intimate connection, first posited by Jon Sumida, between fire control, strategy and tactics. The research is prodigious, the mathematics frightening, the conclusions very exciting. It was Jon Sumida who first suggested that the Royal Navy before the first world war conceived a tactic designed to lure the German High Seas Fleet into its own preferred medium-to-short range, there to annihilate it; Friedman's work virtually confirms this ground-breaking thesis - and offers similar insights into other navies. It is deductive history at its very best.
Peter Padfield, author 'Guns at Sea', 'Maritime Dominion', Woodbridge 2009
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A landmark in the study of 20th century naval warfare, 18 Aug. 2008
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John Dallman (Cambridge, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is a pretty technical history book. It's a study of the development of naval gunnery from the end of the nineteenth century to the end of the big-gun era. The subject is vital for a proper understanding of the navies of the time, because the capabilities and limitations of fire-control systems shaped the doctrine of navies, and the expression of those doctrines in war shaped the history of the 20th century. The field started with Jon T Sumida, whose works are sadly out of print and has been touched on by many writers since. The previous gold standard in the field was John Brooks' "Dreadnaught Gunnery and the Battle of Jutland".

Friedman has excelled him by far.

There has been a fair amount of new research on this subject in the past few years. Much of it has been published in the journal "Warship International", where I've read it. It has been exquisitely detailed in its description of the mechanical computers that told gunnery officers where to point their guns, but lacking in appreciation of the effects that these systems had: the tactics shaped by them, and the ideas they prompted.

That gap has now been filled, and all of that research integrated into a narrative.

Naval Firepower is unusual in the way that it integrates analysis of the machinery, its development, and the politics that surrounded it, with the tactical ideas that it was designed to serve, and which were changed by the features of the systems. It has become, instantly, the primary text that everyone interested in the period needs to read, learn and digest. Friedman has produced definitive accounts of several strands of naval history. This book is that far rarer thing, a definitive analysis.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real eye opener, 4 Aug. 2010
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Clive Fouche (Auckland, New Zealand) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Naval Firepower: Battleship Guns and Gunnery in the Dreadnought Era: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates (Hardcover)
Some time ago I was standing in the fire control centre of the USS Missouri now berthed at Pearl Harbor looking at the technology and listening to the tour guide explain how it worked. When I saw this book on Amazon I wanted it but had to wait for it to be published. The wait was worth it. It has given me an insight into the workings big gun that is amazing. This book has opened me up to a deeper understanding of how these ships worked, the tactics they used and some interesting people who developed these tactics. This is the second Friedman book that I have on the subject of battleships and they are both outstanding. This is a must for anyone who wants to delve deeper into the technology that makes these ships tick. It certainly helped me get a better understanding of what went on at Jutland.
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Naval Firepower: Battleship Guns and Gunnery in the Dreadnought Era: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates
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