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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A tale much greater than a battleship
The title does not do justice to the work. This is a very comprehensive account of British-German relations from the beginning of the reign of Queen Victoria to the outbreak of the Great War. As the book reaches the beginning of the twentieth century the author deals with the different themes and events separately which means that he is moving backwards and forwards...
Published 16 days ago by Forlornehope

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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A glorious waste
A huge but amazingly readable account of the political manoeuvrings between Great Britain and Germany in the years leading up to WW1.
There is much to recommend this book. It is brilliantly written and sustains the reader's attention through every one of its 900 or so pages. The portraits of the various characters are masterful and unforgettable, as are the...
Published on 31 May 2005 by Brian Whitby


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A tale much greater than a battleship, 12 Dec 2014
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This review is from: Dreadnought: Britain, Germany and the Coming of the Great War (Kindle Edition)
The title does not do justice to the work. This is a very comprehensive account of British-German relations from the beginning of the reign of Queen Victoria to the outbreak of the Great War. As the book reaches the beginning of the twentieth century the author deals with the different themes and events separately which means that he is moving backwards and forwards through their respective timelines. His brief biographies of the principal characters, often starting in childhood, take us back again and again into the past before hurrying forward to the "contemporary" events.

He does bring out some little known gems about the individuals; I had never heard that Winston Churchill had been recommended for the VC (it was blocked by Kitchener on personal or political grounds). However he does repeat a few canards. His description of the press gang system in the Royal Navy repeats the myth of drunks and tramps bludgoned into the service. Prof. Nicholas Rodger has comprehensively dealt with this in several monumental works on the subject. He also falls for the "there's something wrong with our bloody ships" trap; there was nothing wrong with the ships it was ill-discipline among the officers who opened up the fire traps to speed handling of the ammunition; the German battle cruisers Seydlitz and Derflinger took enormous punishment and remained afloat. And on a minor point, he translates Holstein's position as First Counselor whereas the more literal, and suitably sinister, translation would be secret counselor!

Overall, a massive piece of work with lessons which are still relevant and will be as long as great powers face each other with great arsenals.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars epic read, 15 Nov 2014
This review is from: Dreadnought: Britain, Germany and the Coming of the Great War (Kindle Edition)
A very long but fascinating review of the build up to world war one, with as the title implies a major slant on the naval side. You could look on this as including a series of biopics of all the main British and German leaders - Bismarck, Kaiser, Churchill, Fischer .....
Excellently researched, I like the way he would alternate between the perspective of the 2 sides. The author knows his stuff and clearly loves his subject. I'm reading the follow up, castles of steel and it's just as good. Thought I knew my stuff on ww 1, but I didn't!
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The slow march to the Great War, 31 Jan 2002
By A Customer
Robert K. Massie clearly loves his subject, and this book is an enthusiastically-written history of the personalities, and technology, behind the steady drift of Europe to World War 1. The style is such that reading the book is like encountering a clubbable historian in your local pub. Some people may not like this method of writing, but I found it a refreshing change, and I enjoyed the anecdotes about some of the personalities, like Lord Salisbury entertaining a lunatic unawares, in his personal railway compartment. For a non-specialist but interested reader, like me, this book was an excellent read.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Meticulous Piece of Research, 9 Oct 2006
By 
Mr. R. Williams (Twickenham, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
An initial glance at this may give the impression that it is simply about the development of the Dreadnought class of battleship and the arms race that followed their creation. This is an important issue in itself, but Massie covers much more. He provides the reader with a detailed account of relations between the great powers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and of much of the stubborness, short-sightedness and bumbling that almost accidentally led to the First World War. The book provides superb mini-biographies of key players, the Kaiser, Bismark, Asquith, the earlier years of WS Churchill and many others. For people studying international relations in that period, this is an excellent source of reference, even for those who are not specifically interested in the naval matters alone.
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4.0 out of 5 stars I would advise having a good reference book to hand, 25 Dec 2014
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This review is from: Dreadnought: Britain, Germany and the Coming of the Great War (Kindle Edition)
Dreadnought is a major work looking at the run-up leading inevitably to World War I. Although the title of the book might lead a potential buyer to believe that the main emphasis was on the Royal Navy, in fact that forms quite a small part of the book as a whole, albeit an important part. The meat of the book is in the politics and political figures from the accession of Queen Victoria to the British throne to the advent of war. It brings the various characters to life, and taught me much that I did not know about nineteenth and early-twentieth century politics. I would advise having a good reference book to hand, or a computer with Wikipedia running, to check and enlarge on various points, and to refresh the memory from time to time (there are a LOT of characters discussed here!).
Based on my limited knowledge I found the book to be essentially accurate, and most of Robert Massie's opinions are in line with generally accepted history. The book is not an easy read; it took me several weeks, on and off, but it is well enough written to hold the interest even over an extended period. I have now just started the sequel, Castles of Steel, which looks to be much more about the Navy itself.
Mr Massie is a distinguished historian, with several books about the Russian Czars, and if this is typical, I can strongly recommend his work.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I have always liked the name Dreadnought but knew little about the ships ..., 18 Dec 2014
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This review is from: Dreadnought: Britain, Germany and the Coming of the Great War (Kindle Edition)
I was drawn to this book by the title, I have always liked the name Dreadnought but knew little about the ships themselves. What I expected was just the story of those ships, what I received was a detailed history of Europe from Nelsons victory at Trafalgar to the outbreak of WW1. If like me you could just about remember some archduke getting shot then buy this book. I was both amazed and ashamed at just how ignorant I was. The author has included mini biographies of the main protagonists so you can get some idea of how they thought and why they reacted the way they did. On some subjects the tale is told from the English perspective and then later told again from the German or whichever countries are involved, so you get to see the reasoning behind each sides responses to the other.
The main battle between the dreadnoughts didn't happen until 1916 so I can see the reasoning behind stopping at the outbreak of the war. The fact that it does was the only disappointment I have with the book. I still give it five stars and recommend it to anyone who has an interest in European history or the First World war
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear, informative and completely absorbing., 21 Mar 2001
I am not usually quick to dive into huge volumes of political discussion, and came at this from the direction of naval history. Daunted initially by the book's size, I was quickly absorbed into one of the most fascinating accounts of World affairs I have yet encountered. It is studded with luminous pen-portraits of the personalities involved, and carries the reader briskly along with clear, rational exposition of momentous events and of smaller, often highly illuminating anecdotes. The book is not a great source with regard to naval architecture and engineering, but the student of those aspects must surely read this book in order properly to understand the context in which such huge technical advances were made in a mere 50 or 60 years. I cannot think how this account can be bettered, and cannot recommend it highly enough.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating political history, 8 April 1999
By A Customer
'Dreadnought' is a superb companion to any technical history of battleship development: it provides the essential political and even personal backdrop to the development and construction of these mighty ships.
Massie touches lightly on specifics of armour and armament and propulsion, concentrating his formidable talents on the political and personal histories surrounding the Anglo-German naval arms race of the late 19th century and the events that led to World War 1.
Massie brings the personalities to life, describing their backgrounds and showing how they reacted to and helped to shape the events of their time. With the men of the time so described, he explores how confusion, mutual distrust, antagonism, personal ambition and national pride dragged Europe into the morass of the First World War. He captures chillingly the popular and, in some cases, private enthusiasm for conflict.
I found this book to be both enlightening and entertaining, and highly recommend it.
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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A glorious waste, 31 May 2005
By 
Brian Whitby (Luzern, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
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A huge but amazingly readable account of the political manoeuvrings between Great Britain and Germany in the years leading up to WW1.
There is much to recommend this book. It is brilliantly written and sustains the reader's attention through every one of its 900 or so pages. The portraits of the various characters are masterful and unforgettable, as are the writer's descriptions of the various set-pieces within his story. To take just one example, the portrayal of the Battle of Trafalgar, in the book's preface, is so superbly written as to almost qualify as poetry.
However, having finished the book I was left with a number of grave doubts as to whether, apart from its entertainment value, reading it had been worthwhile.
Most seriously, the final two chapters make it clear that war between Britain and Germany would almost certainly have occurred even had the Germans never built a single ship! This invalidates the author's main point; that the German Naval building programme (and the British response) was a major cause of the disaster that engulfed Europe in 1914.
Secondly, the author's decision to treat the whole period purely in terms of the personalities and machinations of the leading statesmen is inexplicable. What were the effects of this massive Naval expenditure on the British and more particularly the German economies? Did the German decision to create such a large Navy waste resources that could have been spent making their land forces even stronger? (Given the narrow margin between victory and defeat in the land campaign of 1914, an extra 50,000 soldiers on the ground in France might have enabled the Germans to capture Paris, push the BEF back across the Chennel and win the war before Christmas.) I've heard it said that the huge military expenditure in Germany pre 1914 created such economic problems that a short, sharp war actually appeared to be a reasonable financial instrument - what does Mr. Massie think of this theory?
It is clear, as the British pointed out at the time, that the German Navy was designed for one task only - to fight the Royal Navy in the North Sea. Did the German people and press even think about this? And what did they think in general about Britain? Again, we are not told.
Finally, could Mr. Massie learn the difference between 'England' and 'Britain'? I can imagine Scottish, Welsh and Irish readers throwing away this book in disgust...
However, I don't want to finish this review of this fascinating book on too sour a note. It portrays graphically to the general reader what happens when a new Great Power, backed by a large and intensely patriotic population and a formidable manufacturing base, rises to challenge the established World Order. For this reason alone it should be essential reading in both Washington and Peking.
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5.0 out of 5 stars If you like history do not miss this., 4 Dec 2014
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This review is from: Dreadnought: Britain, Germany and the Coming of the Great War (Kindle Edition)
Totally unexpected, and before I have even finished it, compelling reading Very absorbing, It turns out to be an historic record, in explicit detail, of the build up to war between the European Dynasties following Trafalgar. There is particular reference to the legacy left by Bismark,effects on; and the relationship between the Royal Houses of England and Germany. The title, "Dreadnought", should really be ascribed to Bismark.
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