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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificant book which will be the standard work for years !, 3 Jan 2010
By 
C. E. Taylor (Warwickshire UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: British Destroyers: From Earliest Days to the Second World War (Hardcover)
This book is Norman Friedman's long awaited "pre-quel " to his well acclaimed " British Destroyers and Frigates -the Second World War and After "

It's been well worth the wait - the book is truly one of the greats.

Starting in the 1870's with the genesis of the torpedo boat, the book goes through to the last of the classic British destroyers, the "I" class of the 1935-36 program. Details and photos of the Second World War modifications to the pre-1937 British ships, and the ex-American flush deckers are also included. Not only are the Destroyers themselves covered but also the gun-boat, catcher, and light cruiser types associated with anti torpedo boat tactics and destroyer history.

The book is the long overdue filling of a vacuum. With the exception of the V and W classes, and David Lyons book on the turtlebacks, no serious specific work has been done which adequately covers the pre 1925 destroyers since R.D. Manning's " British Destroyers " of almost fifty years ago. (A veil will be drawn over Edgar March's book of 1966, except to say it has good photographs ! ).

What do you get for your money ?

(a) The best account yet of the convoluted history of anti-torpedo boat strategy and the evolution of the destroyer from a coast offence/defence ship to a fleet vessel.A far more complex story than I personally had realised, showing unexpected light on many other facets of the pre 1920's naval scene.

(b) A magnificent collection of photos, many of which, coming from US sources (probably ex ONI/USNISC ), are new to most of us. Printing quality is superb, and the choice excellent. A few are guttered over two pages but done reasonable well so little of the photo has actually been lost in the crease. One (HMS Attentive ) has even had the text lines parted so as not to obscure the yards! There are some detailed onboards, and a few of models. Most have good extended captions although not all are dated .Unfortunately very few of specific onboard items.

(c) A very large number of superb profiles and deck plans mostly by Dave Baker. Many inboard GA's, mostly profile . Again very well reproduced and nearly all covering from side to side of a page (the short side ).

(d) A brief and somewhat incomplete bibliography

(e) Voluminous notes, not only of sources, but to amplify the text without confusing the narrative.

(f) Separate ship class data tables and ship lists . The data tables could well have been expanded to give more details of the weaponry, especially gun and mount mark numbers - or a section specific to armament and equipment added.

(g) An index. This is a bit "hit and miss" . For example looking for " Hedgehog" and "Squid" will only find the references under "Depth Charges" .

I've mentioned a few quibbles but then nothing is perfect. As this book is as near perfect as it gets. If you are seriously into naval history- buy it.If you just like great warship photos - buy it. And if you are a model maker - buy it.
You will not be disappointed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything you would expect from a Norman Friedman book, 26 May 2014
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This review is from: British Destroyers: From Earliest Days to the Second World War (Hardcover)
Norman Friedman is rightly revered as one of the foremost naval writers of not just this era but of any era therefore expectations are always high when picking up one of his books. This one does not disappoint (not that any of his others have ever disappointed either!) and along with the companion volume on destroyers and frigates of the second world war and after is set to be the standard reference work on the subject. The destroyer evolved from the torpedo boat and torpedo boat catchers and evolved into the principal surface warship of the worlds navies, eclipsing the big gun capital ship. From humble beginnings the destroyer grew in size and capability from ships with a very narrowly defined purpose to the advanced ships which became the backbone of the fleet. This book covers the early part of this journey, whilst a book on British destroyers in reality it is a good guide to the development of the destroyer generally given the Royal Navy's role in developing the type in the era covered by the book. The self propelled torpedo was a truly revolutionary weapon which de-coupled destructive power from ship size. Men of war needed heavy guns and carried heavy armour to withstand bombardment from such guns, driving ships sizes upwards with obvious implications for cost. The torpedo transformed ship design as no longer was it necessary for effective fire power to be predicated on large guns needing equally large hulls, as such it set the trend which has continued through to the warships of today albeit by use of missiles and radar detection/evasion rather than by use of torpedoes. As ever, Friedman looks at context of why the ships were developed, the history and evolution of their design and considers the strategic/tactical issues affecting them. Some may find his writing style a bit dry, many will probably find that this book is much more comprehensive and detailed than they want from a book on early torpedo boats and torpedo boat destroyers but what is beyond doubt is the quality of the research and analysis and for those with a serious interest in the subject it is an outstanding book. Very well illustrated, as ever much of the praise must go to A.D.Baker III for his wonderful line drawings. The only times the book feels a bit light is when considering the propulsion machinery and systems where there is a definite feeling that the authors prodigious talents when analysing ships and weapons does not really extend to the ships engines and propulsion systems. However, this is a minor quibble and does not detract from the books status as a standard work of reference. 5*.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine work again, 13 Dec 2012
By 
Mr. Stephen Bradley (Sheffield, Yorkshire UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: British Destroyers: From Earliest Days to the Second World War (Hardcover)
At this rate Norman Friedman will have written a book on every warship to grace the Royal navy before:as they used to say: the ink dries on these pages. What we have here is a well researched volume that will not look out of place on any warship enthusiast, historian or model makers bookshelf. In essance he traces the history of warships built for the anti-torpedo boat role from the 1880's untilthe start of the Second World War. We are lead from frail, early, river launch, like torpedo boats to vessels that contined to grow in size and power. Torpedo boats that sacrificed their torpedo tubes for a heavier armament are covered and this leads us onto a good section that starts with torpedo cruisers and continues in great detail with their half sisters: the torpedo gunboats. That said, we now pass onto the early 26 knot prototypes and 27 knotters, 30 knotters, Rivers and so on. In common with many of his other, similar books, Mr Friedman always introduces us to various foreign contemporaries, especially when built by British builders, and these are often well illustrated. Further chapters follow this pattern until the start of the Second World War. There are some surprises. For example: there are several pages tracing the development of the scout cruiser/flotilla leader concept of the mid 1900's.
Books of this kind however will never fully satisfy "armchair admirals" like myself and any criticisums are purely personnal in nature. I would have liked the 1930's Tribals included and the ex US destroyers excluded. The latter would have been fine when being used to compare with the V/W Classes, but there seems to be a lot of space devoted to these ships that were never meant to be fleet destroyers in the accepted sense. Being a traditionalist, I still like my technical in formation grouped with the classes and not at the end of the book alonside the index. I can see that this might interfere with the narrative but thats how I like my information. Therefore I will still keep a copy of Manning or Lyon handy.
The illustrations on the whole are very good. Some are over two pages and not always the examples I would have chosen for clarity or focus. Dan Bakers' fine drawings are used to great effect and I have never seen so many clear illustrations of a good size [covering a half page] before. "As fitted" Builders plans are of great interest but by necessity, are reduced to book size. They are also ammended, often in coloured pen or wash, so that when presented in black and white they appear confusing. In passing I think the photograph of HMS Arun in the River Class section is actually HMS Arno that was built much later; at least Manning thought so fifty years ago. Still, all in all a very good book, and a reasonable price when you consider the cost of a round of drinks or a take away! No doubt I will be lost to the world when my Birthday arrives soon and I open the pages of British Cruisers of the Victorian era by the same author, Steve Bradley
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More from the master, 18 Feb 2010
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This review is from: British Destroyers: From Earliest Days to the Second World War (Hardcover)
Norman Friedman has made naval technical history his own preserve. This does not disappoint at any level, how torpedo boats evolved into torpedo boat destroyers and ultimately destroyers and the thinking behind each change is carefully and methodically explained without becoming bogged down in unnecessary detail. The detail is there, but in footnotes for the less involved reader. This will be a standard text.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars British Destroyers-From the earliest days to the Second World War, 4 Feb 2011
This review is from: British Destroyers: From Earliest Days to the Second World War (Hardcover)
An excellent reference work for anyone interested in the development of the earliest torpedo boats into the destroyers of the 1930s. The photographs are excellent with good detail, particularly when condidering their age. There are plenty of good line drawings which, taken together with the photographs, provide a wealth of detail for anyone interested in making models of the subjects covered.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars best xmas presesnt ever apparently!, 20 Jan 2010
This review is from: British Destroyers: From Earliest Days to the Second World War (Hardcover)
I bought this for my dad whos written several naval books (Leo Marriott if your interested) and he said i couldnt have bought a better xmas present. He's loving it!

Thanks amazon! I chose it completly on amazon reviews and "people who bought this".
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars British Destroyers: From Earliest Days to the Second World War, 11 Aug 2012
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This review is from: British Destroyers: From Earliest Days to the Second World War (Hardcover)
Norman Friedman never fails to please with his meticulous research. This is a book either for reading from cover to cover or just dipping into for some particular information. Even dipping in I get hooked, and end up reading more than I intended.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good quality book., 27 Nov 2011
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This review is from: British Destroyers: From Earliest Days to the Second World War (Hardcover)
I suspect that this book may become a classic. It is well written, but above all has lots of photos and diagrams of the layout of the types of destroyers.
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British Destroyers: From Earliest Days to the Second World War
British Destroyers: From Earliest Days to the Second World War by Norman Friedman (Hardcover - 30 Oct 2009)
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