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The Corbett Centre Review of Books

We have decided to launch an occasional series of reviews of books likely to be of interest to Associates of the Corbett Centre. These will be from both Members and Associates of the Centre.  Associates interested in providing book reviews for us, should contact the Centre here.

The following reviews of a number of recent Australian books on the Second World War produced by Professor Geoff Till for the Australian magazine Headmark may be of interest. It is available here.


Maritime Strategies for the XXI Century - The contribution of Admiral Castex, by Lars Wedin 

Wedin's book is an engaging and accessible  voyage of discovery that will help his readers understand the many maritime challenges of the 21st Century. It is highly recommended.

Read the full review here.



Navies in the 21st Century, ed. by Conrad Waters

The Corbett Centre recommends Conrad Waters' new book on the world's navies; and this has nothing to do with the fact that its Chairman wrote the foreword!

Ordering information is available here.

Armies and Maritime Strategy, ed. by Peter Dennis
Armies & Maritime Strategy

We draw your attention to a recent work also produced in Australia which highlights the growing interest of the world's armies in the kind of maritime and expeditionary strategy that Corbett would undoubtedly have approved of. It is well worth your attention! The book is called Armies and Maritime Strategy and is edited by Peter Dennis and includes contributions by several Members and Associates.


David Stevens - In All Aspects Ready

Desmond Wood's review on In All Aspects ready appeared in the Australian Warship Magazine and HEadmark, the Journal of the Australian Naval Institute, with which the Corbett Centre is associated.

A more recent review has also been written by Geoff Till.

Warning of Wars to Come - A Review of Ghost Fleet by Peter Singer
and August Cole

Ghost FleetReaders familiar with the gruesome twists of the popular TV series ‘Game of Thrones’ will need no reminding that people have long written stories of invented wars to thrill and to entertain. But for all its fascination there’s no message, no ulterior motive behind the ‘Game of Thrones. ’ But there’s also a smaller cluster of invented wars stories that have more than just an entertainment mission and do have such a message  - and it’s usually a message in the shape of a warning about what might well happen unless corrective action is taken. This is future war reportage with an edge – it entertains but it also has a serious argument to make.  There are lots of examples. The ‘Battle of Dorking’ was a novel that appeared in Victorian England in which the army of a continental adversary was only defeated, just about, in Surrey. The message was obvious. Britain had neglected both its armed forces and nearly paid the price. Erskine Childer’s famous The Riddle of the Sands was a novel in the same mould. Two intrepid and very British yachtsmen foil the dastardly German Navy’s attempt to launch a surprise landing on the unprotected shores of England by exploiting the mists of the Friesian islands. Again the message was clear. Britain should look to its fleet, and be vigilant about the activities of other countries that might well prove to be adversaries.

Ghost Fleet is another such. It thrills and it poses disturbing questions about American security.  What sets it apart from, and indeed above, other earlier examples of the genre, though, is the level of technical and operational detail and the extensive research as shown by over 400 detailed research notes at the end of the book. These authors have done their homework and are experts in their field; indeed, Peter Singer’s non-fiction book, Wired for War really made his name a few years ago.

Without giving away too much of the story (and so spoiling it for prospective readers) the setting is a surprise attack on the United States in the Pacific theatre by a new and militaristic Chinese regime (sinisterly known as the Directorate) which is for reasons that are not entirely clear supported by an equally chauvinistic Russia. As in the Second World War, the US suffers a series of catastrophic defeats but these end with the loss of Hawaii and Pearl Harbor. Anyone familiar with Honolulu and its surrounds will find references to the Chinese making their headquarters in the Moana Surfrider hotel deeply unsettling! Of course, the Americans fight back, on land paradoxically employing the methods of Al Qaeda and the Taliban for want of a better alternative and at sea by dint of resurrecting their reserve fleet of warships and submarines prematurely retired after an American economic crash – the ‘Ghost Fleet’ of the title.  Star of the show of the war at sea is the controversial USS Zumwalt, renovated and specially fitted out with a rail gun. I won’t spoil the story  further for readers by revealing the outcome, but it’s certainly page-turning stuff!

So what to make of it all, apart from simply enjoying a good read? Firstly, at the level of grand strategy, it’s not entirely implausible. Russia is a wild card that no-one fully understands (not even some of the Russians in the story) and that rings very true. The US has been seriously weakened by its economic crisis, but here the motivation for a well-crafted surprise Chinese attack on Hawaii (which cleverly combines features of the Japanese Pearl Harbor attack and the German operation against Norway in 1940) is a little unconvincing.  If the Directorate really is driven by ‘economic nationalism’ why would they, by doing that, put at risk the world economic system and their own economic interests around the world? What, in the meantime, has been happening to their oil and gas tankers coming in from the Middle East – or their millions of tourists and overseas workers around the world? What’s going to be the recompense for their investment in US Treasury bonds? Is the ploy simply to be seen as a symbol of new Chinese power that forces the US to accept a consequent change in world governance?  If so, why not simply buy that influence as they seem to be doing so successfully now? Defending their ill-gotten gains so far from home against a resurgent America would not be cost-free either. The rest of the world sits idly by, of course. Europe is completely supine and only England offers any support, but has been emasculated by Scottish independence. And all that, at least, seems awfully possible.

All in all, and whether you sign up to the assumptions or not, it’s a good story and so provides an effective vehicle for making a whole series of interesting military-technical points. First and foremost, the US really has to bite the bullet and spend enough to retain the cutting edge in military and to avoid such obvious strategic vulnerabilities as malware in the microchips that the Chinese now supply, even to US arms firms responsible for critical weapon systems like the F-35. The crucial importance of cyber-security and the capacity to gather, process and exploit information comes out time and time again.  Temporarily losing both, the US descends into a fog of operational chaos and uncertainty while at home power systems fail, and the utilities shut down. The new glasses that people wear for the information they convey in a kind of head-up display are a bit futuristic – but perhaps not much. Altogether what emerges is technology racing ahead, exponentially, faster than people can respond to – a Law of Accelerating Returns indeed.

The reader will also spot the salience of a lot of contemporary debates about features of current US naval policy, including the operational weakness of the LCS , the controversial expense of the Zumwalt class, the vulnerability of even super-carriers to the hostile attentions of single submarines, the advantages and dangers of the stealthy combat drone  and the military value of retaining a sufficient merchant fleet – it’s how the Chinese are able to make a surprise landing on Hawaii, after all.

Personally I found the Taliban style assault on the Chinese forces subsequently occupying Hawaii unconvincing – the island isn’t that big- and the individual campaign of a female psychopath gruesomely disposing of Chinese officers something of a distraction, and actually rather dull – but perhaps that’s because I’m so used to ‘Scandinavian noire’ thrillers on the television. This strand in the book though does at least have the advantage of stressing the human factor in war as a counter-balance to the techno-determinism of the rest of it. But the naval and straight-forwards maritime bits are first rate, both thrilling and as something that makes you think. And that is the real virtue of this project. However implausible some may find the scenario, it has tremendous heuristic value, just like old style war games. Great stuff, worthy of the hype – read it on your next long-haul flight like I did and you won’t regret it.

Geoffrey Till

Paulo de Queiroz Duarte - Days of the War in the South Atlantic
(Dias de Guerra no Atlântico Sul)

Dias de GuerraIn this book the author and military historian Paul Q. Duarte, creates the narrative as a tribute to the sailors and airmen, protagonists at the dramatic episodes experienced during World War II in Brazilian territorial waters and the South Atlantic.

In the first two chapters, the author begins to describe the neutrality scenario in Brazil during the initial part of World War II, from 1939. The Brazilian merchant marine fleet was in action to mainly assist commercial shipping of North Americans. Early in 1942, because of a series of German submarine attacks, the Brazilian government and popular pressure cause them to put in question the discussion of the Brazilian neutrality.

Then the author draws parallels between the involvement of the Brazilian Navy in the two world wars, emphasizing the Brazilian Navy’s increasing  participation Even with an outdated fleet, lack of government funding, and the modest operational means - which were very inaccurate, the Brazilian Navy had greater participation and a more efficient and objective function in their missions in hemispheric security to provide assistance in the ocean patrol naval mission, than is often realised outside the country.

Given the state of war against Germany and Italy in 1942, much of the available fleet of Brazilian navy warships had been used in the First World War, so equipment modernization and human training were necessary, in addition to having to rely on the supply vessels and technologies from the United States.

During the second half of 1942, the Brazilian merchant marine was the target of a large number of attacks, resulting in the loss of several ships in a short period of time. From these attacks, and popular pressure that encouraged the government to take action in relation to the attacks, Brazil declared war against Germany and the state of Italy. The author says that at the initial moment of Brazil's entry into the war, the unpreparedness of the Brazilian navy was huge, and the fleet had not prepared ships to face the kind of threat to commercial routes that were being presented in the Atlantic, most especially underwater ones. An initial solution as a measure of urgency, was to equip old ships originating from the First World War and with essentially outdated technology.

These emergency measures were only replaced with the gradual modernization of the Brazilian fleet, largely thanks to agreements signed with the North Americans, who sent new ships, created training centres for underwater warfare and provided new technologies to counteract the submarine threat. Before World War II, and the hemispheric security measures adopted by the United States to the Atlantic, the patrolling and surveillance of the region was the responsibility of the British fleet.

In the third and fourth chapters of the book, the author focuses his analysis of some examples of attacks against the Brazilian ships by German submarines, as already mentioned, commenting on specific cases. He comments also on the strategies and the powerful technology of U-Boats, which was used by the enemy to threaten the security of maritime traffic in the South Atlantic.

The author also cites dramatic case in particular for the Brazilians: the attack made by U-507, commanded by Commander Harro Schacht, between 15 and 19 August 1942, which torpedoed five Brazilian ships in their own coast, resulting in a high loss of life. This case was just one of several recorded attacks, increasing the pressure for the declaration of war against Germany.

The author also states that even with all the clear problems that the Brazilian Navy had, there was a gigantic effort of the Admiralty and the Ministry of the Navy, assisted by agreements with the United States, which made the work of the Brazil Navy effective in the designated missions. The alliance with the United States was consolidated through diplomatic agreements, which resulted in sending American warships, especially corvettes and destroyers to support the Brazilian fleet, skilled personnel for training of Brazilian sailors in submarine warfare, besides creating joint bases in north-eastern Brazil, which were favourably placed  in order to contribute to hemispheric security strategies.

After making comments about the whole situation involving the Brazilian coast, the international commercial traffic and finally Brazil's entry into the war, and its work in conjunction with the Allies, the author addresses in the chapter five and at the end of the book, the whole approach that started in the effective combat against German supremacy in the Atlantic waters and the turn of the Allies in fighting the submersible.

The author concludes with a review of the technological innovations of that were of great importance in the mission to find and neutralize the enemy. He also comments on the important use of the Air Force in conjunction with naval forces for the more effective patrolling of commercial lines and the collapse of German submarine power, marking a turnaround in the maritime backdrop of World War II.

(Rio de Janeiro: BIBLIEX, 1968). Pp 368, with index, maps and photos.

Review by Andre Luiz Melo, Federal State University of Rio de Janeiro and researcher at the Naval War College

Chris Parry - Super Highway: Sea Power in the 21st Century

TParry-Bookhis is a very straight-forward and workman-like review of the present future importance and role of seapower produced by someone who was recently the Director General, of Developments, Concepts and Doctrine in the UK Ministry of Defence. This meant he was in effect running the British military’s ‘shop’ for thinking about future trends and how the military needed to respond to it. This shows! 

The author starts with a simple but persuasive analogy, and this is reflected in the book’s title. He sees the sea as a ‘Superhighway’ access to which and the effective exploitation of will be the basis of the world’s future peace and prosperity. His warning is clear; nations which understand this and profit from it will prosper, while those that do not, will not.

This proposition is advanced in a number of clear and sensible chapters that show the potentiality for competition and/or cooperation between the world’s navies and which describe simply and succinctly, the sea’s role as the basis of world trade, through its shipping industries, containerisation, under-sea cables and so forth. 

The advantages of seapower, both ‘hard’ and ‘soft,’ are laid out in Chapter 3 together with a necessarily brief account of the main maritime players. Future trends, not least climate change are given prominence in Chapter 4  - a part of the book where the Admiral’s areas of interest in his previous incarnation are given full and interesting rein. Likening maritime crime to ‘malware’, he makes the point in Chapter 5 that piracy, human trafficking and terrorism threaten the maritime security on which the world trading system depends. This could also be threatened he argues, perhaps a little less convincingly, by Chinese moves to ‘territorialise’ the sea and constrain traditional concepts of the freedom of the seas.  This links up with the theme of strategic competition that constitutes Chapter 8 and which amounts to a discussion about the possible consequences of impending maritime competition between China and the US.

This leads into a competent and authoritative review of the likely impact of new technology on the conduct of warfare operations at  sea.  This chapter like all the others is distinguished by a pleasing, easy-to-read and admirably succinct style. Finally the author ends with a review of ‘What’s a country to do?’ that starts with an interesting quotation from Nicholas Monsarrat, "Sailors, with their in-built sense of order, service and discipline, should really be running the world".

While the author doesn’t quite prove that point, he does provide a sensible, comprehensive introduction to the current and future importance of the sea. Some would quibble with the book’s absence of footnotes and on much else of the academic paraphernalia that facilitates further research into the arguments made, but all the same this is an authoritative primer, easily read and one that at the price quoted is very good value indeed. Highly recommended.

(London: Elliott and Thompson, 2014). Pp 360, index: £20.00. ISBN 978-1-90873-984-1. 

Robert J Winklareth - The Battle of the Denmark Strait:
A Critical Analysis of the Bismarck's Singular Triumph

battledenmarkstrait_CCreviewRobert Winklareth has an unusual background for a naval historian. He is a graduate mechanical engineer with a particular affinity with the technical aspects of the naval past. These were in evidence in his last book 'Naval Shipbuilders of the World - from the Age of Sail to the Present Day', which was published by Chatham Publishing in 2000. With this background Robert Winklareth has approached the familiar story of dramatic short career of the German battleship Bismarck from a rather different angle from previous books like the well received David Bercuson and Holger Herwig's 'Bismarck' (2003) and Graham Rys-Jones' The Loss of the Bismarck: An Avoidable Disaster' (1999). 

The continuing academic interest in the Bismarck reflects its extraordinary career, first as it exemplified Hitler's plan to use the surface navy not for the usual purpose of contesting sea control with its opposite numbers in the Royal Navy but rather to attack British merchant shipping in the Atlantic. Secondly, it had all the fascination of a sleekly beautiful but deadly ship - although the Bercuson/Herwig book points out the deficiencies in its apparent perfection. Thirdly there was the dramatic encounter in the Denmark Strait in which the famous British battlecruiser the Hood blew up after five minutes and the brand new battleship the Prince of Wales retired hurt but after securing one significant hit. Then there was the nerve-wracking hunt for the Bismarck as it abandoned the mission and attempted to slip away to France. Finally there was the denouement as the Royal Navy closed in at the last moment and exacted revenge by sinking what was arguably one of the most celebrated battleships of all time. This is indeed naval history of the un-put-down-able type!

So what does Robert Winklareth add to this well known story? Actually quite a lot. He argues convincingly that Admiral Holland approached the German task force at too sharp an angle in the Denmark Strait for all the British guns to bear on Bismarck and that Hood initially fired on the wrong ship, the Prinz Eugen. He suggests that Holland closed fast on the Bismarck less to avoid the danger of plunging fire on the Hood's weak horizontal armour and more to distinguish between the two possible targets. His review of the protagonists' salvo firing is the most detailed account this reviewer has seen. 

Finally he shows rather convincingly that the conventional reading of the battle is sometimes confused by the fact that some of the photos and battle-film taken of the encounter from the Prinz Eugen was inadvertently printed back-to-front !While the rest of the book is something of an anti-climax being largely a record of what happened more generally to the rest of the German surface fleet and to the survivors afterwards, the author's exhaustive research on the battle itself means that this book is well worth reading.

(Philadelphia and Oxford: Casemate, 2014). Pp 336, with photos, maps and index: £19.99: $US 32.95.

Poul Grooss - Krigen I Ostersoen 1939-1945 (War in the Baltic)

If WarinBaltic_CCreview the sinking of the Bismarck is well-known, the course of the Second World War in the Baltic is the complete opposite - for all its strategic importance. This was the style of naval war characteristic of the narrow seas rather than the open ocean but any substantial review of what happened there shows just how much it affected, and was affected by, the war on land. The book takes the reader through each varying stage of this long-drawn out series of campaigns, and illustrates incidentally how the Prinz Eugen managed to dodge all the bombs the RAF dropped on it and became one of the two surviving intact ships of the German fleet at the end of the war. (It was eventually sunk in the Bikini atomic tests). The author of the book commanded Fast Attack Craft in the Baltic, worked in Defence Intelligence and later worked as a historian at the Danish Defence Academy. The book is currently only available in Danish although it is before several publishing houses for an English language edition. It deserves the kind of wider circulation this would bring as this is indeed an important story, well told.

(Copenhagen: Defence Academy, 2014). Pp 251: NP. Index, copious photos and maps. ISBN: 978-87-7147-069-7.

Vice-Admiral Armando Vidigal - A Evolução do Pensamento
Estratégico Naval Brasileiro
(The Evolution of the Brazilian Naval
Strategic Thought)

livro-do-vidigalIn his book The Evolution of the Brazilian Naval Strategic Thought, Admiral Vidigal presents the historical evolution of the Brazilian naval strategy from the time of independence (1822).  Looking back, he argues, ‘we can distinguish, clearly, that during certain periods of the Brazilian naval history there was persistence of some ideas and actions [...] characterizing the existence of a dominant strategic design, that was maybe not explicit, or even not understood as such by all the time’.  After this Admiral Vidigal divides the evolution of the Brazilian naval strategic thinking in three stages.

First Stage: Independence (1822) until 1893

The Brazilian’s Navy appears in 1822, along with the independence and the emergence of the Empire of Brazil, as proclaimed by Dom Pedro I.  This moment is marked by the British influence on the Navy of Brazil and which won certain domestic political privileges.  The period ended in 1893, with the Revolt of the Navy; this resulted in the best elements of the Navy, ending or being relegated to a secondary position.  It had been the Army that proclaimed the Republic in 1889, and which won political power, and ended, symbolically, the political hegemony period of the Navy.

Second Stage: 1893 until 1977

If the first phase was marked by British influence, the second phase is marked by a dependence on the United States, both in the material sphere and in the field of ideas.  Starting with World War II, is no longer right to speak of US influence or Brazil’s dependence on the United States of America; it was more a question of total allegiance.  At that time and within the context of the Cold War, Brazil made antisubmarine warfare, as established by the USA its main task.  In this period the USA provided material for the Navy of Brazil, under the Military Agreement between the two countries.  This agreement undermined the Brazilian shipbuilding industry, since it made Brazil dependent on the supply of American material on subsidised terms with which and the Brazilian domestic naval industry could not compete.

This phase was also marked by the absence of own naval strategic thinking.  The automatic alignment with the United States which characterized this period, stultified our strategic vision.  Brazilian strategic thinking, at all levels of expression was therefore limited by the US political vision, discouraging, totally, any original thought in this field.  The stage came to an end in 1977, when Brazil finally broke with the Military Agreement with the USA.

Third Stage: 1977 onwards

Already under the administration of President Geisel in the 1970s, the economic successes of Brazil abroad led the country towards a more consistent foreign policy, bringing to light issues of national interest, that were unrelated to the East-West conflict.  An example of this attitude was the Brazilian interest in continuing with research in the nuclear area and the national refusal to sign the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.  As a result of this the military agreement which symbolized of the second phase of Brazilian naval development was broken.

At this time, truly indigenous national thought in naval strategy appeared.  It came in the form of the development of the Strategic Plan of the Navy (PEM - in Portuguese) and the Guidelines for the Naval Planning (DIPNAV - in Portuguese).  In this way, from 1977, the Brazilian Navy for the first time, consciously formalized through appropriate documentation, its strategic design.  Naval construction followed suit with the first corvettes national project, the training ship Brazil, the project to acquire foreign designed submarines to be built in Brazil, and the start of the effort to build national powered submarine nuclear propulsion, the Navy's participation in the Brazilian Antarctic Program and others. With these developments, the Brazilian Navy came of age.

(Rio de Janeiro: BIBLIEX, 1985) ISBN: 85-7011-0901.

Thiago Sarro, Brazilian Naval War College

Admiral James Stavridis, USN (Ret) - The Accidental Admiral:
A Sailor Takes Command at NATO

scan0011Admiral Stavridis was the first naval Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) in NATO from 2009-2013, a big enough task in its own right, but was also at the same time Commander-in-Chief of US forces in Europe (EUCOM).  His book is interesting from two different angles.  The first is a set of observations about his new NATO command at a time when the Alliance was facing a whole set of demanding and competing issues that also illustrated the very basic question of what alliance was actually for, now that the Cold War at least seemed to be over.  The second angle, and in some ways the most original, is the Admiral's view of the nature of effective strategic leadership in this new, bewildering world.

His was a period of major troubles.  It was a time of global recession, budgetary constraint and cut-backs in defence spending on both sides of the Atlantic.  Alongside this, Russian truculence was beginning seriously to disrupt the unity of the Alliance by opening up the differences in strategic priority between the Atlanticists who looked well beyond NATO territory at the global problems that threatened alliance interests and many of Russia's neighbours who were not at all sure the Cold War really was over and wanted reassurance of continuing support from the US.  Kosovo and Afghanistan were winding down as major commitments, leaving many of the participants with uneasy doubts about whether the latter in particular had all been worthwhile, and a strong desire never to have to do anything like that again.  The Arab Spring, first naively welcomed as an outbreak of democratic liberalism, was beginning to turn sour.  The 2011 Libyan operation initially thought of an inspiring example of a successful limited military intervention was starting to seem more like an exercise in opening Pandora's Box.  And then there was worrying challenge for the Europeans of an America increasingly fixated on China and the Asia-Pacific at their expense, a shift in US strategic priority partly reinforced in Republican circles by the view that too many Europeans were focussed on their domestic trials and tribulations and were no more than defence free-loaders.

The Admiral's insider observations on all this are as interesting as one would expect.  Afghanistan looked grim when Stavridis arrived but ended up after 'the surge' by at least seeming better.  The charming President Karzai was always going to be a problem - so praise in public, criticise in private.  Stavridis's aims were clear : rally the Alliance to maintain its commitments there ( a full time job in its own right), train the Afghans properly to be good fighters, go with the flow of Afghan politics and hope for the best - since if it works, it will have been 'a near-run thing indeed.'  On Libya, the Admiral's conciliatory approach is illustrated by the absence of criticism of Germany for obstructing the allied effort although 'for political reasons that were never clear to me,' and ten very sensible lessons he draws from the experience ending with 'Probably most important, good luck.  You'll need it.  In Libya, we had more than our normal share.  It won't always be so.'  Developing alliance consensus over Syria proved impossible, maintaining it in the Balkans a major challenge.  More as Commander of EUCOM than of NATO, Stavridis was also preoccupied with Israel to a surprising extent and his sympathy with their view point is very clear.  'There is no braver nation, nor a better ally to the United States.'  How many of his European colleagues would have agreed with that, one wonders.

Another of the issues that confronted Stavridis of course, and a more familiar one for him, was piracy off Somalia but even here the problems were immense - getting NATO and the EU to coordinate their activities - with each other and with the independent players like China, India and Russia, matching naval resources to the sheer scale of the commitment, coping with the innumerable legal hurdles in the way of successful prosecution of the perpetrators and then addressing the real causes of the problem ashore all showed just how different this situation was from the old days when one simply staked out captured pirates on the beach between the high and low tide-lines.  So, how on earth does a leader like SACEUR cope with the depressing complexity and extent of modern challenges to contemporary peace and security?  Here, the second part of The Accidental Admiral comes into play - where Stavridis both discusses the nature of strategic leadership and illustrates it by being the sort of person he is.  The author of six well-regarded books, holding a PhD in international relations, speaking a handful of different languages and with considerable command experience, Stavridis is clearly no intellectual slouch.  His appointment in fact appears more inevitable than 'accidental'.

So, lesson one in strategic leadership: Be very clever and work at studying the context, dive deep and realise that the complexities mean there are no simple answers.  It was ' the Fletcher School' the Admiral says 'that I first learned to appreciate the key interplay of politics, economics, finance, business, culture, language and security.'  The necessary flexibility of mind and appreciation of what smart power really is will follow naturally.  If this lesson is mainly implicit (in that Stavridis doesn't actually say it in so many words) it strongly emerges from his account of his time in command.  This is backed up though by a whole series of explicit observations about how strategic leaders should behave.  Many of them would seem at first sight to look like blinding glimpses of the obvious were it not for the fact that so many leaders, both bright and dim, seem to get it so wrong.  Making big organisations like NATO work, the Admiral shows, is all about teamwork and partnership, and this has to be the principal focus of the leader, mastering the flow of ideas, concepts and, particularly now, the flow of information - and of course, dealing with a corrosive news media.

As an intimate 'now it can be told' insider story of the controversies normally hidden from the public gaze this book is perhaps a little disappointing.  The Admiral is far too diplomatic for that.  But as a 'haul-down report' from someone just leaving a crucial and demanding job, The Accidental Admiral is hard to beat.  Those who want to understand NATO, especially if they have an important job to do within it should read the book both for what it says about the issues confronting the alliance and for guidance on how commanders should try to manage the task of reacting to them.  Not everyone will agree with everything the Admiral says, but at the very least it's all worth very seriously thinking about.

(Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2014). Pp 246: $32.95. ISBN 978-1-61251-704-9.

Geoffrey Till

Professor John Hattendorf's review of Theorist of Maritime Strategy: Sir Julian Corbett and his Contribution to Military and Naval Thought

A review by Professor John Hattendorf of the US Naval War College at Newport, Rhode Island, on Theorist of Maritime Strategy: Sir Julian Corbett and his Contribution to MIliary and Naval Thought is available here.

This a remarkable book on the maritime thinking of the great man himself, and is written by J J Widen.

Professor Geoffrey Till reviews Australian books on the Second World War

Professor Geoffrey Till reviews a number of recent Australian books on the Second World War for the Australian magazine Headmark. The reviews are available to read here.

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