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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep and instructive studies of 11 British admirals
Even enthusiastic students of naval warfare may not be familiar with all 11 admirals featured in this fascinating and most instructive book. They range from Lord Howard of Effingham, who led the English fleet against the Spanish Armada, to Andrew Cunningham ("ABC" to his men), the mainspring of the Royal Navy's struggle against Italian and German forces in the...
Published on 28 Mar 2010 by T. D. Welsh

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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beatty
How did Beatty get into this book? I think he must have been the only British Admiral in command of a fleet twice as big as his enemy and lose. Having lost badly he and his journalist friend Fitton Young slander Jellicoe, a more deserving admiral than Beatty, tarnising the reputation of the Royal Navy into the bargain. I like reading Lamberts' books and enjoyed this one,...
Published on 17 Jan 2012 by P. Kench


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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep and instructive studies of 11 British admirals, 28 Mar 2010
By 
T. D. Welsh (Basingstoke, Hampshire UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Admirals (Paperback)
Even enthusiastic students of naval warfare may not be familiar with all 11 admirals featured in this fascinating and most instructive book. They range from Lord Howard of Effingham, who led the English fleet against the Spanish Armada, to Andrew Cunningham ("ABC" to his men), the mainspring of the Royal Navy's struggle against Italian and German forces in the Mediterranean during WW2. The others are Robert Blake, James Duke of York (later King James II), George Anson, Samuel Hood, John Jervis (better known as Earl St Vincent), William Parker, Geoffrey Hornby, John Fisher, and David Beatty. If some great names such as Nelson and Jellicoe are missing, it is because they have already been written about in scores of books. In Andrew Lambert's own words, "This study charts how the art of naval command has evolved within a single organisation over a period of four hundred years"; and the specific men on whom it focuses were chosen as the best examples with which to illustrate that evolution. Before Howard there was hardly such a thing as an admiral, while today most decisions are directed from distant control centres on land.

Lambert's style is forceful and witty, as when he remarks that "The Royal Navy was never perfect... but it has always been able to recover from setbacks to emerge victorious, even against such recent foes as the Treasury and the Royal Air Force". He explains how, before Charles Howard, there was hardly any system or discipline at all in sea fighting; and even during the battle against the Armada, he was the only real professional while tearaways like Drake, Hawkins and Frobisher were all too often concerned only with their own enrichment or fame. Blake extended military discipline to the Navy, and even won battles against the Dutch - although they gave as good as they got. One of the book's biggest surprises is the revelation that James Stuart, Duke of York, was an excellent admiral who was brave, resolute, and skilful in battle. Leading over 100 warships in his very first naval engagement, he pressed the Dutch flagship so close that frightful carnage ensued. A chain shot decapitated the Earl of Falmouth standing beside him, "and left James covered in blood and brains, with a piece of Falmouth's skull driven into his hand. James remained every inch the Prince: he did not flinch. He also behaved like an admiral..."

Anson, born in 1697, was the first fully professional officer to become the Navy's senior admiral; not only did he give the French a wretched time at sea, he built up a resilient political power base and even revolutionised the design of warships. Hood and Jervis, two of Anson's proteges, were to carry the sea war to Napoleon; and Nelson, the greatest of them all, was in his turn a favourite disciple of Hood. In the 19th century Parker and Hornby saw the Royal Navy through long years of peace and, in the case of Hornby, oversaw the troublesome transition to steam-propelled iron and steel ships. Then Fisher ushered in the age of modern naval warfare, with his understanding of the new mines and torpedoes, and his introduction of the battlecruiser. It is all too easy to see David Beatty as the villain of the Dogger Bank and Jutland, yet as Admiral of the Fleet and First Sea Lord he did a lot of good, too. Which brings us to Cunningham, the man who commanded British fleets through some of the worst days they had ever seen. Although it broke his heart to see his ships sunk and men under his command killed while evacuating the Army's "pongos" from Greece and Crete, he insisted that it had to be done with the famous words, "You can build a new ship in three years but you can't rebuild a reputation in under three hundred years".

This review is already too long and detailed, but it has only scratched the surface of this magnificent book (Alan Mallinson's adjective). Anyone who is interested in the art of naval warfare will find it deeply engrossing and highly instructive.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Men, 12 Dec 2010
By 
Charles Vasey (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Admirals (Paperback)
Historians no longer cleave to the idea of history as being the lives of great men. However, such lives if chosen well can illuminate an institution and show how it has changed and adapted. Andrew Lambert has chosen his admirals wisely. The two earliest choices (Effingham and Blake) come from an era before professionalism was entrenched. Many of the later admirals have grown in the tradition these two started; in some cases they come from naval dynasties every bit as impression as the great French or German military families. At each stage the author reminds me how much I see one period in the pattern of another. I was thus very interested in the post-1815 admirals for whom peace was as much their target as war. Jackie Fisher's view as to how the Great War should end was very useful. A thoroughly good book even if you don't know your taffrail from your jib.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling, 7 April 2009
By 
S. A. Frater (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Admirals (Hardcover)
I decided to read this book on the grounds that I didn't feel I knew enough about English and British history beyond what I'd watched in TV documentaries. The information it has bestowed upon me I feel has been clear, concise, relevant and unbiased. The journey though the centuries of naval history via the lives of the men who shaped it has been enthralling. I'd highly recommend it to anyone who wants to understand why Nelson was possibly the best, but who helped him become that and who he inspired in return.

Fisher, Beatty and Cunningham have provided a different view upon a time in history that is too often portrayed as the time of land and then air. I will certainly be backing up this recent read with more, but maybe varied, reading.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Senior Service, 7 May 2013
By 
M. Dowden (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Admirals (Hardcover)
This book is illustrated throughout, including maps, and was an interesting, thoughtful and pleasurable read. What you may be thinking is this book will be mostly full of Nelson, when in fact it isn't. Choosing eleven admirals spanning a few centuries this isn't about the most famous or most battle hardened seamen, this is about the forging of the Royal Navy.

Until relatively recently in our history, all trade had to by done by boat due to us being an island, consequently to be successful we had to be able to protect not only the coast of our country, but also shipping for trade. And yet it wasn't until Henry VIII that the first seeds of our modern Royal Navy were planted. This book takes us through admirals who helped to create and transform a navy that ruled the seas, that became the most envied and powerful naval force to ever emerge, helping to create our Empire and protect trade. It obviously didn't happen overnight, first you need to decide what tactics should be used, you need to have a standing body of men, you need discipline, and you need the right ships.

This intelligently written and fascinating book brings to life some of the men who made the Royal Navy a force to be reckoned with. We are taken into the 20th Century, through two world wars and then up to when the face of the Navy changed, with admirals stuck at home, and increasing power from the politicians. First published in 2008 this has a rosy introduction, but of course since then the ships that were going to be built have been cancelled and we are now going to 'time share' with the French.

If you are looking for something more cerebral than just a story of winning sea battles then this should be for you, as this gives you an idea of how the Navy was first formed, and then transformed.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic revisionist history, 31 Mar 2009
By 
S. N. C. Lovell "Nicholas Lovell" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Admirals (Hardcover)
Admirals is a fascinating read, making a revisionist case for the most important admirals in British history. Out go Drake, Nelson and Jellicoe. In come James II, Geoffrey Hornby and Andrew Cunningham. It is a tour d'horizon of the makings of the modern Royal Navy, but very much in the "Great Men" mould.

Professor Lambert's analysis is lucid, broad-brush, yet steeped in sources. He is equally at home with Tudor correspondence and twentieth century politics. Through the lives of 11 men, he helps us understand the signifaicant evolutions that transformed a ramshackle assortment of hired vessels and converted merchantmen into the professional modern Navy.

Highly recommended.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very Good Book showing that the Royal Navy is more than just Nelson, 8 Sep 2009
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This review is from: Admirals (Paperback)
Admirals by Andrew Lambert is a very good book which is well-written, fast-paced and opinionated. It deals with well-known figures such as Hood and St Vincent but also with some rather obscure figures. It also is more than just biographies it is also about the development and evolution of naval tactics and the Royal Navy. However, the bibliography in my opinion is not very good and therefore makes it difficult to find further reading. Overall though it is a very good book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A 'must read' book, 29 Dec 2013
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If you thought history was boring this puts the 'people' into names just mentioned in the history books. Just don't expect any political discussion of the conflicts talked about - this is politics within the Navy/government
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4.0 out of 5 stars Admirals, 14 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Admirals (Kindle Edition)
Well written , with a attention to historic detail with a fast moving plot , overall a good read recommended
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5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting unbiased look at the admirals, 2 Dec 2013
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Thoroughly enjoyable and easy read, one character at a time but with various overlaps within the story of each. Interestingly I discovered one of my maternal grandmother's relatives included. Would recommend to anyone interested in this aspect of naval history or for general interest.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good Book, 11 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Admirals (Kindle Edition)
I wasn't sure whether I would enjoy this book or not. The real test is whether I kept picking up the book to carry on reading it and this I did with the Admirals. It is very informative about political and naval situations that have occurred in our last few centuries of history but it also has a fascinating insight into the leaders (Admirals) in these situations. I thought the book might be a little 'bitty' as it moved on from one Admiral to the next, but this was not the case as one admiral's influence often led onto the next. This book is definitely worth a read.
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