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From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow: Volume I: The Road to War 1904-1914 Paperback – 31 May 2013

4.8 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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  • From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow: Volume I: The Road to War 1904-1914
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  • From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow: Volume 3
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Product details

  • Paperback: 488 pages
  • Publisher: Seaforth Publishing (31 May 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848321627
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848321625
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 3.7 x 21.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 157,826 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

ARTHUR J MARDER was a meticulous researcher, teacher and writer who, born in 1910, was to become perhaps the most distinguished historian of the modern Royal Navy. He held a number of teaching posts in American universities and was to receive countless honours, as well as publish some fifteen major works on British naval history. He died in 1980.


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Format: Paperback
(publisher's review copy)

Thomas Babington Macaulay: "Moderation in War is Imbecility!"

This seminal analysis of the preparation of the Royal Navy for the war, which the prescient Fisher knew was going to be forced upon us, was first published in 1961. It is now reprinted as a paperback, with an additional introduction, by Pen and Sword in UK and the Naval Institute Press in the US. The main text appears to have been reproduced from the original plates.
An original set of all five volumes is currently on sale at £724; individual volumes of the original OUP publication seldom retail for less that £50; an affordable reprint is extremely welcome.

Marder was the American-born son of Russian Jewish immigrants. His grasp of his subject and of the politics of the time, both internally to the Royal Navy and between the RN and its political masters and the public, and externally between nations was total; but it was the product of exhaustive and encyclopaedic research over very many years. Somehow Marder also wove a vast array of disparate threads into a highly readable narrative and the result was a work absolutely fundamental to understanding the RN in the Kaiser's War.

Fisher, prescient visionary genius and ball of fire, bestrides the period under review like a colossus. Marder relates how Fisher shook up the somnolent Victorian RN from top to bottom, forcing improvements to Lower Deck conditions, officer selection, training and education, gunnery (in which he was so well served by that other genius Percy Scott), manoeuvring practice, ship construction, reserves (both ships and people) and the Board of Admiralty itself, so as to forge a new Navy fit to fight in the war he knew was coming.
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If you know nothing at all about the history of modern Royal Navy from 1904-1919, I can only suggest you commence your appreciation with Volume 1 of this book and continue through to Volume 5. Even if you already believe you know all there is to know about this particular subject - I would still recommend you do likewise - unless you already have.

This is a very thick book (1½ inches or 38 mm) containing over 450 tightly packed pages with very few images at all. It is full of historic information and is also an extraordinarily good read. Author and renowned historian Arthur J. Marder (1910-1980) was Emeritus Professor of History, at the University of California. Born in Boston and with a degree from Harvard, he was attracted to English history and the Haldane Mission of 1912 on which he wrote his distinction thesis before concentrating on British naval history. So began one of the most distinguished careers as an historian of the modern British navy where even established British sources expressed astonishment at the calibre and excellence of his work!

Marder had several outstanding qualities from which we are all able to benefit. One of these was his mastery of the complex and often indefinable quagmire into which all those engaged in serious research venture in their quest for answers. That he succeeded - and the extent to which he succeeded, however, became legendary. Added to this was a natural ability to translate those facts, figures and knowledge into the most readable account one might ever have the privilege to read. In short, this author set new standards that others might only hope to emulate.
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Reading this book makes it clear why the navy was so unprepared and gives insights into the reasoning behind the decisions made at the times, some of which turned out to be mistakes. An instance might be the belief that the Germans had a type of torpedo that left no visible track on the surface although this is covered in a later volume. A fascinating book that simply makes one want to dig further.
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Top marks for this book. It is probably not for the beginner, but for the advanced student of British/German maritime history, it has all the microscopic detail to fill in the gaps left by hitherto reading only an overhaul account of this war and its causes. Volume one is the first of five books by Marder; and I cannot wait to read the next four volumes. But beware, whether you are British or German, this book is a myth-crusher! Enjoy!
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Marder's works represent the standard to which all the rest of us naval historians try to aspire. His conclusions and opinions are entirely his own, and some of them are open to argument, but the five volumes of this work represent one of the finest pieces of historical writing that have ever graced the genre.
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