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Castles of Steel: Britain, Germany and the Winning of the Great War at Sea Kindle Edition
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The capabilities and character crews, officers, captains and fleet admirals are explored in revealing detail.
Just as telling is Massie's exploration of the role of the Admiralty in London. Modern means of communication meant that the Admiralty could keep in contact with the fleets at sea. The problem here was that orders, guidance and other information from London were too frequently incomplete or out of touch with reality. One positive feature was room 40 - the 1st World War equivalent of Bletchley Park - giving British admirals information about the disposition of German ships. This decoding service - perhaps oddly - was not matched by Germany.
Massie identifies how the Admiralty became an almost personal fiefdom for Winston Churchill - until he was sacked following the Dardanelles failure.
Attempts to block shipping supplies both to Britain and Germany by their respective navies are given due attention. It was the German decision to make indiscriminate use of U-boats to do this (violating neutralities) that finally brought the USA into the war. At a time when German manpower was at its limit, Massie argues that the resulting influx of new Allied forces (albeit at first very green) was enough to turn the scales.
Massie gives impressive detail on the war at sea while placing the campaign in the context of the wider conflict. The book details both the technological and tactical differences between the two sides but also the strategic imperatives affecting the parties and their respective political masters.
It's well written and clear. I thoroughly recommend.
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