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Business in Great Waters Paperback – 15 Oct 2009
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Top customer reviews
Full credit must be given to Terraine for his perseverance in research so that issues such as "just how many U-boats DID aircraft actually sink during WWI?" can finally be laid to rest. It is the standard of scholarship which means this work is seen as seminal by military and social historians alike and is often cited in Journal articles relating to this subject matter.
However, what I found frustrating as an historian wishing to cite this work, is the author's repeated failure to mention the year when he gives a particular date:
* years are not mentioned in his chapter headings
* he does tend to jump around in, for example, comparing the situation in 1916 to that of 1917 and obviously 1918
* his primary sources often do not include a year, just a day and a month
It is sometime impossible to confidently cite him without a great deal of time and energy being expended in tracking down for oneself exactly WHEN he is talking about. Chapter 4 is a case in point.
No doubt some smartypants will offer all sorts of quotes from the book to prove me wrong, but I can only go on my experience, from those of us writing literature reviews comprising hundreds of books and dozens of journal articles who just don't have the luxury to read any work from cover-to-cover, this is just NOT cricket!
This small criticism has unfortunately cost him a star from me. Otherwise without a doubt, this is a 5-out-of-5!
An excellent read n0ot to be missed by anyone interested in the subject
The underlying message of this book is that such a strategy is a mistake. Britain can be affected by undesirable regime change in Asia and Africa - but Britain's existence depends (since Elizabeth 1) on maintaining the freedom of the sea-lanes which approach these islands.
Terraine lucidly explains in this book how control was nearly lost to the submarines of Germany in both World Wars, and by what a narrow margin this control was maintained. No detail has been left out in this analysis - geography, technology, the morale of the population, intelligence gathering and the introduction of air-power to the naval element. It is all in there - and explained in a gripping way.
But Terraine brings in other elements too. Firstly the absolute importance of good statistical analysis in determining strategy. Secondly the pernicious effect of wishful thinking by "progressive" thinkers in the 1930s who believed that security could be achieved by paper agreements rather than adequate military and industrial strength. There are lessons for governments of the present and near future in this.
Twice Western democratic society could have been extinguished if Britain had lost control of the seas. A third instance is possible.
A glorious read from an author of the "realist" tradition