We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
 >   > 
Castles of Steel Audiobook

Castles of Steel

Regular Price:$66.50
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Publisher's Summary

In a work of extraordinary narrative power, filled with brilliant personalities and vivid scenes of dramatic action, Robert K. Massie, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Peter the Great, Nicholas and Alexandra, and Dreadnought, elevates to its proper historical importance the role of sea power in the winning of the Great War.

The predominant image of this first world war is of mud and trenches, barbed wire, machine guns, poison gas, and slaughter. A generation of European manhood was massacred, and a wound was inflicted on European civilization that required the remainder of the twentieth century to heal.

But with all its sacrifice, trench warfare did not win the war for one side or lose it for the other. Over the course of four years, the lines on the Western Front moved scarcely at all; attempts to break through led only to the lengthening of the already unbearably long casualty lists.

For the true story of military upheaval, we must look to the sea. On the eve of the war in August 1914, Great Britain and Germany possessed the two greatest navies the world had ever seen. When war came, these two fleets of dreadnoughts - gigantic floating castles of steel able to hurl massive shells at an enemy miles away - were ready to test their terrible power against each other.

Their struggles took place in the North Sea and the Pacific, at the Falkland Islands and the Dardanelles. They reached their climax when Germany, suffocated by an implacable naval blockade, decided to strike against the British ring of steel. The result was Jutland, a titanic clash of fifty-eight dreadnoughts, each the home of a thousand men.

When the German High Seas Fleet retreated, the kaiser unleashed unrestricted U-boat warfare, which, in its indiscriminate violence, brought a reluctant America into the war. In this way, the German effort to “seize the trident” by defeating the British navy led to the fall of the German empire.

Ultimately, the distinguishing feature of Castles of Steel is the author himself. The knowledge, understanding, and literary power Massie brings to this story are unparalleled. His portrayals of Winston Churchill, the British admirals Fisher, Jellicoe, and Beatty, and the Germans Scheer, Hipper, and Tirpitz are stunning in their veracity and artistry.

Castles of Steel is about war at sea, leadership and command, courage, genius, and folly. All these elements are given magnificent scope by Robert K. Massie’s special and widely hailed literary mastery.

From the Hardcover edition.

©2003 Robert K. Massie (P)2012 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

Praise for Robert K. Massie’s Dreadnought:
“Dreadnought is history in the grand manner, as most people prefer it: how people shaped, or were shaped by, events.” (Time)

“A classic [that] covers superbly a whole era...engrossing in its glittering gallery of characters.” (Chicago Sun-Times)

“[Told] on a grand scale...Massie [is] a master of historical portraiture and anecdotage.” (The Wall Street Journal)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.5 (180 )
5 star
 (113)
4 star
 (50)
3 star
 (13)
2 star
 (1)
1 star
 (3)
Overall
4.6 (163 )
5 star
 (114)
4 star
 (37)
3 star
 (9)
2 star
 (1)
1 star
 (2)
Story
4.6 (165 )
5 star
 (121)
4 star
 (32)
3 star
 (9)
2 star
 (1)
1 star
 (2)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Matt OVERLAND PARK, KS, United States 09-22-12
    Matt OVERLAND PARK, KS, United States 09-22-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    103
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    76
    73
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Stick With It!"

    I'm glad I did. I stopped listening a few different times, went on to other newer books, but always returned once complete. I flew through the second half of this book....once Massie gets the main characters introduced it really picks up. I am a history enthusiast, but admittedly knew next to nothing about WWI naval engagements aside from the famous sinking of Louisitania and perhaps one other. This book is the "soup to nuts" overview of WWI naval power, ship types, war strategies, key players and specific battles. I have read one other Massie book (Peter the Great), though I had not read Dreadnought prior to this (I’m not sure if that would have made the experience better or worse, but I have heard excellent reviews of that book as well). Like with Peter the Great, Massie finds a way to take what would normally be dry textbook type material and bring it to life so it reads like an extremely well written piece of fiction. The narration for Castles of Steel was some of the best I have heard; I am well over 50 audiobooks and this was near the top. He does a masterful job with all three main accents- British, German and American. If you find this subject matter even remotely interesting, give it a try-- you won't be disappointed!

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Moore Bay Area, CA USA 11-17-13
    Michael Moore Bay Area, CA USA 11-17-13 Member Since 2005

    mcubed33

    HELPFUL VOTES
    415
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    120
    66
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    93
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Riveting Account!"

    Robert Massie served a tour of duty onboard a US aircraft carrier. That may account in part for his remarkable ability to describe in vivid and insightful detail the weather conditions, shipboard activity, and battle capabilities of the naval vessels that took part in World War I. His eye for insightful detail extends to his descriptions of the high level strategic debates that took place in the British and German war cabinets and admirals’ councils that made the crucial decisions which in the end determined the outcome of the war. In particular, the German decision finally endorsed by the Kaiser in 1917 to authorize unrestricted submarine warfare against all neutral merchant shipping in an effort to bring Britain to its knees through lack of supplies and foodstuffs instead led to the decisive entry of the US into the war that year.

    Most interesting throughout the book are the decisive roles played by minor incidents of incompetence, hesitation, miscommunication, or misjudgment based on human foibles or the confusion and fog of war. These include Admiral Milne’s failure to block the battle cruiser Goebben from escaping to the Dardanelles; Captain Thompson’s careless handling of critical intelligence that could have turned the tide in the Battle of Jutland; the failure of Admiral Beatty’s flag officer to assure clear and proper signaling of the Admiral’s orders; the British Admiralty’s failure to immediately pass on critical intelligence during the Battle of Jutland to Jellicoe because the communication room was left in the hands of a clueless low level officer.

    All in all, a very interesting account that will provide a rich source of lessons on the critical decisions made by the naval leaders in World War I.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul Pittsburgh, PA 04-27-15
    Paul Pittsburgh, PA 04-27-15 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    30
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A bit of overload"
    What did you love best about Castles of Steel?

    Battleships in their golden age, titans of the sea going head to head. What's not to like?


    Any additional comments?

    Take note: this book is well worth the listen. It's long. It's technical in many places and it's slow developing. It's like a grand chess match. This book takes patience. It's worth it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dan McGrew Safford, AZ 02-25-13
    Dan McGrew Safford, AZ 02-25-13 Member Since 2016

    Military History and Archaeology

    HELPFUL VOTES
    26
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    43
    10
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great History on the British and German Navies"
    Where does Castles of Steel rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    One of the Best


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Castles of Steel?

    The narrator does a wonderful job with bringing Winston Churchill to life.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    This book keep me interested in the events discribed


    Any additional comments?

    This is one of the best books you'll find on the subject

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rory 07-23-16
    Rory 07-23-16 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    25
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    91
    17
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    5
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Audible should remaster but story worth a listen"

    1. Production--Not only are there various spots where sentence is annoyingly repeated, but in Chapter 21, during a naval battle scene, it skips frustratingly past a key scene. Audible needs to re-master the book to fix this.
    2. Narrator---Richard Matthews does a good job narrating and keeps story flowing despite the headaches described above and even the dry parts. Tis only reason I give performance 4 stars
    3. Massie and his story:
    A. My knowledge of this area was very little--knew a little about Goeben from Guns of August but he goes into more detail, especially with regards to the subsequent courtmartial...loved Milne's quote! Rest I knew of WWI focused more on diplomacy, air battles, tanks, and the trench warfare. Knew very little of WWI naval history -subs and Jutland. This is why I picked this up.
    B. Massie starts off in great detail on the personalities...I have a feeling I missed out on more of the leadup and creation of the fleets as I didn't read Dreadnought(would be great if Audible adds it). He puts in quite a bit of extraneous material and I can see why someone said he needed an editor--trying too hard to be Tuchman. However...that said, later chapters go into his personal views/biases of these men so the early character backgrounds lend some support to his views. For example, describing Beatty as a browbeaten cuckold whose Lady MacBeth wife pushes his career comes across harsh until you get to chapter 34 and he lays out even harsher criticism making it clear his distaste for the Admiral.
    C. His battle scenes are a bit drawn out, nowhere near as exciting as Neptune's Inferno(if you haven't listened, pick it up!) but he goes into great detail of the decision making.
    D. If you are interested in leadership, like I am, this is why he is worth a listen. The actions themselves are overall very unimportant in history of WWI, but he explains each choice the commanders on both sides faced, all their options based on what they knew.
    His analysis is spot on, if a little biased.
    E, For one thing while he could have done some cutting, glad he included Churchill's complete response to one of Fisher's threats to resign. Beautiful prose that could be included in any business writing course!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. Craven Chicago, IL USA 04-28-16
    D. Craven Chicago, IL USA 04-28-16 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    15
    9
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Book needed an Editor, audio needed a checker"

    the book needed some editing. it would repeat various basic facts more than once. the organization was also unclear, jumping backward and forward in time. the performance had similar issues from a strained attempt at an American accent (think the American version if dick van dyke cockney) to repetition of sentences and paragraphs. sloppy audio editing.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    E. Idenmill San Diego, CA United States 06-27-15
    E. Idenmill San Diego, CA United States 06-27-15 Member Since 2014

    Engineer the Bass Player

    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    81
    21
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very good book, but has production issues."

    This is a very good book, with lots of details on the operations of the British and German navies. It tends to focus a lot on the politics and personalities of each. The narrator is superb, and is able to use distinct voices when quoting different people. My one major issue is that this book has some serious production issues. In a lot of places, the audio repeats the same sentence twice. At one spot, the audio skipped, although it did not greatly impact the narrative.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael United States 02-09-15
    Michael United States 02-09-15 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    30
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    110
    22
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fascinating History"

    The navel history of World War I is critical to understanding the war and therefore all of early 20th century history. This book does an excellent job of presenting this story in a factual but interesting manner. The level of detail makes it plod a bit but overall it is well worth the time.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Judith 02-08-15
    Judith 02-08-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
    62
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    222
    15
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    "Long but interesting"

    The narrator is great. Although listed as Richard Matthews, I recognize the inimitable Simon Vance, one of my favorites. Lots of detail about naval tactics and personalities, especially British.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    B Kevin minneapolis, MN, USA 12-23-14
    B Kevin minneapolis, MN, USA 12-23-14 Member Since 2007

    Avid reader of fiction and non-fiction. PhD in Astrophysics. Hobbies include Wagnerian opera, photography, and travel.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    35
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    217
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "This needs an editor"
    What would have made Castles of Steel better?

    Some interesting bits here and there scattered amongst a lot of boring, repetive flotsam


    What could Robert K. Massie have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Anyone who really really really REALLY likes hearing about sea battles


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Great for putting you to sleep


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.