Having bought this book I expected to learn about the Royal Navy from 1900 to 1945, and of the two world wars. And I was not disappointed - this is a must read for anyone interested in that time. What was more surprising was that I also ended up learning quite a few other things as well. I was born almost to the day 20 years after "ABC" died, but even though I am from another generation his thoughts about leadership, comradeship, duty and discipline is as true today for someone working in business as it was for an naval officer all those long years ago. Cunningham is very reserved in his writing, seldom praising himself and never boasting, but it shines through what a wonderful leader of men he must have been.
His relationship with Eisenhower - whom he praises without hesitation in this book - is worthy of further study. From other sources it is clear that Eisenhower, up until then a relatively unknown "desk general" learned much from Cunningham, and that it was Cunninghams authority and gravitas that enabled Eisenhower to lead the Torch operation as well as he did and command respect from all subordinates. I cannot say whether this is true or not, I would suggest that anyone interested in researching Eisenhower, both from a political and a military point of view, would be well advised to read this book and read it without the benefit of hindsight. Now we remember Eisenhower as the brilliant general and statesman that he was, but when he first met Cunningham it was Cunningham who was the most well known and considered the most able of the two. The dynamic between the two leaders, with complete respect for each other, is something many leaders today can learn from.
This book by Britain's greatest 20th century admiral is a treasure. It is not an easy read as it is long and full of detail while being almost without humour. The first hand accounts of the war in the Mediterranean are without equal and he is quite modest about his part in it. Starting in destroyers, which remained his passion, he commanded almost every type of ship in the navy and was responsible for some of Britain's most successful naval actions. The meetings with all the major figures from the King to Stalin and Roosevelt make fascinating reading as with the difficulties in keeping Churchill's hand off the helm. The fact that he reached the highest rank and position in the navy he ascribes to luck which may be a bit under-stating the case. However, understatement was a facet of his character much remarked on at the time. The man himself seems to have been a typical dour Scot with all the pluses and minuses implied. He rarely shows feelings or any emotion in a convincing way. Thus, we learn from him that he got married about half way through the book, but nothing about his wife. In fact on one occasion he visited Malta which gave him the opportunity to visit two destroyer squadrons and his wife, he remarked that all three were doing fine! He is lavish in his praise of colleagues in the book, if he was not always on the bridge at the time. Few men in history have come from being a boy sailor through 50 years of career and three wars to end up as Admiral of the fleet and first sea lord. The story of how it happened is truly fascinating.
A superb leader of men, wicked sense of humour, diplomat and tactical genius. The mediterranean was his manor and you entered on his terms. I always feel a sense of frustration when reading autobiographies of gentlemen officers of Cunninghams generation. They were so repressed that it's hard to get to know them intimately and you always sense that you only know what they want you to know. I much prefer to read these kind of books when written by the Chief of Staff or somebody else who knew them closely. Almost 50 years in the Royal Navy and along with Nelson surely one the worlds greatest seamen. Highly recommended. Fascinating to discover about his relationship with Churchill. Cunningham served under Eisenhower and was a huge admirer of the great American leader. Buy this book.
sir There are not many books available on Ist and IInd world wars, although it is not a history but an autobiography which covers both the wars. Mr Cunningham was famously known as ABC(Andrew Brown Cunningham) I have got a second hand copy but the binding and papers are durable. The book has been written in simple and lucid language. As the world will remember a great sacrifice, travail and endurance of Great Britain and the Commonwealth countries who also contributed to Great War. Mr ABC served mostly in Mediterranean and both the Wars. He accumulated knowledge of naval warfare and it was to be of great service to him and to his country later in a position of far greater anxiety and responsibility. Due to Great War lost the great Empire and its own power and clout over the world. Not only the armed forces but the intelligentsia contributed and some lost their life. I liked the book although it is bulky and consumed more time and recommend highly to all those who are interested to know the not only the life of Mr ABC but also Ist and Second World Wars ks chaturvedi Mathura India
Despite having been written nearly sixty years ago, this personal account of Cunningham's career still reads well. He was one of the few great commanders who felt no need to justify himself, and admitted errors that he (and others) had made, and was very careful to give praise where it was due. He was also unsparing in his assessments of the faults of his superiors, all the more cogent because of his honesty about himself. It is a pity he didn't live to re-write it after ULTRA became public knowledge.