• Fighting the Great War at Sea

  • Strategy, Tactics and Technology
  • By: Norman Friedman
  • Narrated by: Tom Perkins
  • Length: 30 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Military
  • 4.0 out of 5 stars (40 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

While the overriding image of World War I is of the bloody stalemate on the Western Front, the overall shape of the war arose out of its maritime character. It was essentially a struggle about access to worldwide resources, most clearly seen in Germany's desperate attempts to counter the American industrial threat, which ultimately drew the United States into the war. 

This radical new book concentrates on the way in which each side tried to use or deny the sea to the other, and in so doing describes rapid wartime changes not only in ship and weapons technology but also in the way naval warfare was envisaged and fought. Melding strategic, technical, and tactical aspects, Friedman approaches World War I from a fresh perspective and demonstrates how its perceived lessons dominated the way navies prepared for World War II.

©2014 Norman Friedman (P)2019 Tantor

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    3 out of 5 stars

dear lord it never ended

ok I I knew this was a long book going in. That's fine I read very long history books in the past but this one didn't cover individual battles so much as all the technology and ships around the battle. it was us about people than machines. and good God was it boring

3 people found this helpful

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dull, Dull, DULL

An ideal textbook for the Naval War College. On the plus side, it devotes equal time to the British and German fleets, Otherwise a book totally devoid of anything other than the minutiae of logistics, academic tactics, naval personnel matters, and after action reports. Not a whit of the actions actually fought or the human juice and anguish of war at sea.. Even Jutland is looked at through the rear view mirror. It may be academically precise, but as a read it is excruciatingly dull.

6 people found this helpful

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The last chapter is truly abysmal

Dr. Fiedman's conclusion concerning World War One wildly misses the mark. Statements such as that things would have been bad for the French in the short term had the English stayed out of the war shows shockingly overemphasizes the tactical over the strategic. Does he really think that the Kaiser's autocratic regime would have been satisfied swallowing up France? And what about Belgium? And to claim World War Two might not have happened is the worst form of revisionist history.

Dr. Fiedman would have fit in nicely in Neville Chamberlain's cabinet.

2 people found this helpful

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Planning the Great War at sea

This should be titled "Planning the Great War at Sea", not Fighting it. There is FAR more detail given to the planning and considerations for each potential engagement, than is given to the engagement itself. I will concede that it does help to explain why the Royal Navy sacrificed safety procedures for speed at the Battle of Jutland, with the known and unfortunate consequences.

It's almost entirely about the Royal Navy and the German Navy, with a focus on every tiny thing that happened in the North Sea. Any other countries get an occasional mention, at best.

This should really be thought of as a textbook, with vast amounts of dry facts and pretty uninteresting details. If you want to know why things were designed or built they way they were, you'll learn it here, but I can't really say that it's gripping stuff. For example, I think there was an hour and a half on the planning and wrangling over the designs of the German battleships that were built every year 1900-1918. "But for 1908 the tonnage was increased to... with x number of y inch diameter guns, <insert three minutes on preferences by various planners and admirals>, however the Kaiser intervened to stipulate..." and so on.

The actual battle scenes felt glossed over. Even the Battle of Jutland was dull and it was unclear what was happening.
Maybe we're too used to The History Channel pulling out and emphasizing the most interesting aspects, but with this book it was like the smallest and largest engagements were given the same treatment, to come out with approximately equal importance. So, most of the battle-time is given to minor sorties in the North Sea.

As I said, the author seemed a lot more interested in the factors that contributed to how and why the commanders approached a situation, than the situation itself. Which does help to explain why they did what they did, but it's a lot to get through, until you reach that point.

To be fair, it does have chapters on the submarine war and the Gallipoli campaign but they felt more like facts without the usual analysis.

If you want the War at Sea across the entire Great War, I'm sure a lot is missing here, but if you want to know everything about how Britain and Germany planned operations in the North Sea, and you have substantial patience, you'll find everything you want to know in this book.

1 person found this helpful

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An excellent book.

As the cover suggests this book covers the strategy , tactics and technology used by the English , Germans and to a lesser extent the Americans up to and during the first world war.
If you are looking for adventure stories of the naval battles of the first world war then this book is not for you.
However if you are interested in the technology and strategy used then this book is excellent.
It opened my eyes to the amount of planning required to implement an operation and shows how battles at sea can be a real chess match.
I learned a lot of interesting facts and it really open my eyes to the huge scope of the naval side of the first world war. The only reason I did not give it 5 stars was the I felt it did not cover the range finding, gun and torpedo aiming in as much detail as it deserved, but the amount of research that went into this book is extraordinary.


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A great read for understanding technical & tactical information regarding naval strategy in WWI

This book is a great read as the title suggests. My only qualm is that by the last chapter, it gets a little tedious.