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13 of 14 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
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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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