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The Price of Admiralty: The Evolution of Naval Warfare Paperback – 1 Jan 1990

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 353 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (Jan. 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140096507
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140096507
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,383,318 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Sir John Desmond Patrick Keegan (1934 2012), was one of the most distinguished contemporary military historians and was for many years the senior lecturer at Sandhurst (the British Royal Military Academy) and the defense editor of the "Daily Telegraph" (London). Keegan was the author of numerous books including "The Face of Battle," "The Mask of Command," "The Price of Admiralty," " Six Armies in Normandy," and "The Second World War," and was a fellow at the Royal Society of Literature."


Customer Reviews

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By Henk Beentje TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 30 Aug. 2009
Format: Paperback
I have nicked the subtitle of the book for my header, because it gives you what the book encompasses. An overview of war at sea through four main battles: Trafalgar, 21 October 1805; Jutland, 31 May 1916; Midway, early June 1942; and the Battle of the Atlantic, specifically convoys SC122 and HX229, March 1943. From the tactical to the strategic, from the personal to the hardware, from weather to morale; plus an overview of the development of the hardware, the strategic overview and the balance of the outcomes. Keegan writes very well, though twice I had to look up a word (adumbrated, and nugatory...) and you don't encounter his 'Thitherto' much either! But in the main he is very clear, he has a panoramic overview as well as a heart for the individual. I had read quite a bit about Jutland and Midway before, and a moderate amount on Trafalgar, but learnt, as always, more; and the convoys of WWII, 'the only thing that frightened Churchill' had much that was new to me.
So why four stars? Because the four chapters are too short. The Atlantic convoys chapter is seventy-odd pages... I would have liked the book to be longer, with even more detail; but as an overview, it cannot be faulted. The final chapter gives you Keegan's (1988) views on the future of war at sea - still pretty valid, as far as I'm concerned.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Review of naval affairs by noted military writer. A classic of a few years ago.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Cracking book
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Item as described. A great read for those interested in strategic affairs.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars 42 reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Attention All Hands: Read this Book 21 Aug. 2001
By Craig Montesano - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This was a book, cohorts asserted, that was certain to disappoint those smitten with aircraft carriers and battleships. After all, Keegan's central conclusion about the evolution of the capital ship (which will not be revealed here) seems anathema to those who have devoted their lives to surface warfare.
However, `The Price of Admiralty'- with its soaring prose, penetrating gaze, and inescapable logic - is a classic in the canon of naval history. Keegan is an unconventional historian who offers an original thesis on naval warfare not by assessing the gains of victorious navies, but rather through the emerging trends in each era. In this sense, it is more than straight history. `Admiralty' is a compass point for the future.
Keegan explores the meaning of the term `command of the seas' and strives to discern whether any navy throughout history could lay claim to it. The influence of technology on the outcome of the four major battles covered in the book - Trafalgar, Jutland, Midway, and the Battle of the Atlantic - is demonstrated, to great effect.
Perhaps the most important contribution of `The Price of Admiralty' is its implicit exhortation to think beyond the present and into the future. Through the examples of four naval engagements, Keegan demonstrates the grasp governments had on developing technology, and how this affected war aims. Keegan's conclusions point to the necessity of `thinking outside of the box' and applying the emerging technological trends to war on the high seas. Have we run aground on outdated and outmoded strategy? Or will we think ahead to battles not yet fought, and train future captains in forward-thinking tactics?
This is a remarkable book and a worthy successor to the works of Alfred Thayer Mahan.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Accessible History 14 Dec. 2000
By Prauge Traveler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
John Keegan's Price of Admiralty includes all that a volume of subject history should contain. There are short biographies of the major players, anecdotes that lighten as well as enlighten otherwise dry history, good overviews of the naval periods under inspection, descriptions of the major battles, facts and figures to back up his thesis, and perhaps most crucial a nearly seamless transition from period to period. Keegan examines naval warfare from the Napoleonic Wars through both the Atlantic and Pacific campaigns of the Second World War. I personally enjoyed the earlier quarter of the book pertaining to the Age of Sail- the great victories of the Battle of the Nile and Trafalgar. This is a great book if you are interested in expanding your understanding of the development of naval strategies or merely any one of the periods covered: Age of Sail and Napoleonic Wars, Transition to Steam & Ironclads, Age of Battleships and WWI, and both the Atlantic and Pacific Campaigns of WWII. Keegan is always a good read in history and this book is no exception.
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An insightful look at 4 important naval battles 26 April 2002
By Craig MACKINNON - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
John Keegan has turned his formidable talent to analysing some of the most famous naval battles of the last 200 years. For each, he gives an insightful look into the recent history of the times, emphasising technological aspects of ship handling and weapons. He then breaks down the battles into easy-to-comprehend chunks, followed by an analysis of the consequences (usually political) and the more immediate cost in terms of the sailors and ships involved.
While all 4 battles are famous examples of their type, Keegan seems to waffle between choosing battles that were decisive and those that were stalemates. Trafalgar was a decisive battle, but it was unusual in the Age of Sail that one navy enjoyed such a complete victory over its enemy. Alternatively, Jutland was a large battle, but the battle itself was a tactical draw in that both sides left the battle with their proportionate strengths intact. A far more decisive ironclad battle occurred at Tsushima Bay, so why didn't Keegan choose that (admitedly less famous) battle instead?
The remaining two battles are from WWII - Midway and the Battle of the Atlantic. Midway was a clear U.S. victory, and the purest example of carrier-based naval conflict. The Battle of the Atlantic was ultimately decisive as well, but due to the seesaw of technological advancess, the outcome was very much in doubt for 4 years. Although the submarines lost the Battle of the Atlantic, Keegan concludes submarines are the ultimate naval weapon available today, and points to the success of the U.S. submarine offensive against Japan. If that is his conclusion, why not give an account of the Japan-U.S. conflict instead of the Battle of the Atlantic?
This is nitpicking, however. The strength of the book is the masterful analysis of each individual battle. While I question the overall theme and choice of battles, each chapter in and of itself is fantastic. Therefore, it gets 4 stars, as it is inferior to Keegan's Face of Battle and Mask of Command in maintaining an overarching theme.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Keegan Classic 28 Mar. 2006
By Roger Kennedy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This was one of John Keeegan's early classics. Like Face of Battle, this book closely analyses three distinct naval battles from history. The first chapter on Trafalgar is very appropriate for the recent 200th anniversary. The description of the planning, events leading up to and the action itself are first-rate. I doubt one could find a better account of this battle even with all the recent interest in Nelson and Trafalgar.

Keegan excels in presenting clear and concise descriptions. For land-lubbers like me it was indeed pleasant not to be burdened with a lot of nautical terms which one expects with naval stuff.

Keegan also excels in analysis and comparative studies. In this work you get a pretty good picture of how naval technology has developed from 1805 to 1945. Some generalizations are no doubt present, and for those more knowledgeable than myself in naval warfare I leave to them the details of correcting those mistakes.

For the general reader of this subject this is a great work, and in keeping with Keegan's studies on warfare. This and his early work The Face of Battle completely revolutionized how warfare could be studied. Many since have used the systematic approach that Keegan first devised in these ground-breaking works.

Keegan does not provide the minute detail on these battles that some might desire, but there is good, solid research and thought provoking statements on how each enegagement was unique for its time and place. He provides a chronological study of the development of warfare and shows us that examples from past and present each have their place in the understanding of military science. Even after 20 years, Keegan's work remains as fresh today as it down when first introduced. This is a classic study which will always have a place on one's shelf. Highly recommneded for the general reader as well as military history buff.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From Sail to Sub 30 July 2000
By Charles F. Hawkins - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The thing about British historians that I have found refreshing is that they actually analyze the subject they write about and don't just chronicle events. John Keegan is tops when it comes to history, and gives the reader added value with his analysis. One doesn't have to agree with his findings based on trends and patterns of history he's reported, but one is forced to consider seriously the results he presents.
In "The Price of Admiralty," Keegan recounts the pinacle events of two naval eras--Trafalgar at the height of wooden ships and sail; and Jutland at the peak of iron ships and steam. He then delves into the two transformational events leading to the next two eras of sea warfare--carrier-based air power at Midway; and the advent of effective submarine operations in the Battle of the Atlantic.
Describing the constriction of surface ships between the "upper pincer of the aircraft carrier and the lower of the submarine," Keegan points to the future competition between carriers and subs. Although it is not clear which platform will come to predominate in the future, Keegan makes a strong argument that tomorrow's sea actions will belong to the submarine.
There is rich detail among the pages of "The Price of Admiralty," and, like other Keegan masterpieces ("The Mask of Command," and "The Face of Battle"), this work will stand the test of time.
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