on 28 January 2015
Prior to reading this book I had read several accounts of the Battle of Jutland and became hopelessly confused on each occasion. Much to my relief, I found this book to be informative and absorbing. Critically, the authors base their book around first-hand witness accounts of the conflict. It made for a memorable read. Indeed, I am left full of admiration reagrding the decency and courage displayed by the officers and crews on both sides. However, I found it necessary to some extra research and downloaded some battle plans and dreadnought ship plans which I used as aide memoirs; the navigational terms were leaving me clueless. Also, the battle itself is remarkably complicated and confusing comprising engagements of several types of ship in poor to non-existent visibility. Hence, a bit of homework did help but it did take me a couple of months to finish reading it. Overall, the authors paint Jellico in a kindlier light than Beatty and of what I have read, I tend to agree. That said, I am very happy to recommend this book to anyone trying to figure out exactly what did occur on May 31st/June 1st 2016 just outside of Jutland. So who won? It still remains an intriguing question. Clearly, the Germans sank more of our ships and lost far fewer men but the Royal Navy was soon back on blockade duty while the German fleet hardly ever ventured out again. Anyway, read the book and judge for yourself
on 18 August 2015
A well written, highly descriptive account of the battle of Jutland, including an early chapter putting the Royal Navy in the early 20th century into context. Some parts were exciting, other bits sad and horrifying, the scope and detail of the book was very impressive. Even with all of the detail it never felt dry or dense. The book also made extensive use of first hand source material.
on 15 December 2014
This is a very detailed but heart-rending story of the first major battle between dreadnought warships on May 31st 1916, told from the point of view of the ordinary seamen and officers aboard the ships. Much of the narrative uses quotations from the writings of these sailors, on both sides. The casualties sustained in a very few hours, especially by the Royal Navy, were frightful, and there must have been countless acts of heroism that went un-noticed. The overall picture of the battle is also well drawn, with very fair assessments of the leading figures on both sides (though much more about Jellicoe and Beatty than about Scheer and - especially - Hipper). I have read many accounts of Jutland, but this one was new, different and moving and very informative. Strongly recommended.
on 24 January 2013
Having studied this period of naval history via various publications, I consider this book to be outstanding in so much as it views
the subject not only from the official records, but in addition, portrays the human element with comments from not only the British sailors, but German crews also, " a well balanced documentation of events" and a must to read.
on 28 December 2012
I am reading this Xmas present of a book so I may return with a complete review in due course. I have read other books by these authors and I think that they do a great job. Their passion for their subject shines through. Plus they are able to make sense of the actions from the fog of war. These books rely on firsthand accounts and bring you as close as possible to what it might have been like, more so than what they would have been able to learn when the action happened back then.
While I know a fair bit about the Great War I am always learning so these books help a great deal. I find it astonishing that the machines that form the centrepiece of the actions in this book were created in such a short time when you look at how long it takes today. And the staggering expenditures involved; I hate to think what a Dreadnought would cost in today's money but you can see a "battle of attrition" underway even before a hot war got going. Who controls the seas controls the world but it relies on money and technology. Britain led the world in both areas. And this is only a hundred years ago.
All this notwithstanding I feel one little criticism is in order. I may be wrong but I think you need to be able to understand something about naval gunnery to appreciate what went on and in particular why the ships were where they were in relative terms. This pre-radar, pre-aircraft era is fascinating but you can already see how it was obsolescent. That said the investment was worth it; Jutland and the Royal Navy's blockade played a crucial role in the conclusion of the Great War in the Allies' favour it seems to me.
on 3 November 2012
Although there is a narrative running parallel to all the letters, it helps if you have some prior knowledge of the battle and its main events.
That having been said, the authors have woven a very good story from all their quotes. Not all are that new, but it's been put together very well.
on 21 May 2005
Great book! Really brings the ominous physical presence of these ships to life and goes a long way to building your appreciation and visualisation of the unique events that took place at Jutland. You are not long appreciating the glamour of such an awesome gathering of ships and the confidence that people had in Britains enormous high tech fleet, before you are drawn into the brutality, waste and horror of warfare. This is due greatly to the brilliant documented eye witness accounts.On top of this I developed a real feel for the key individuals from Beattie down to the petty officers responsible for picking up peoples remains. There are many twists and turns in this story which are brought to light, leaving you engrossed for a long time after completion. Very well written and incredibly un bias, a very well balanced book.