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Churchill and Seapower by Christopher M.…

Churchill and Seapower (2012)

by Christopher M. Bell

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
excellent book if you are looking to delve deep into Churchill's rise to power his genius to his follies a must read for the ww1 and ww11 historian. Churchill is seen a little less gigantic a bit more fallible human. Very good job Mr. Bell ( )
  watline | Oct 1, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Like other reviewers, it took me a long time to complete this book. I would characterize the first five chapters as being dense and hard to get through. Too much about the costs and red tape of building the Royal Navy. That said, I thought Chapters Seven through Eleven were much more interesting and easier to read.

I would guess that there have been almost as many words written about Churchill as Lincoln. And, from the perspective of new material about Churchill's life, it would have to be specialized and narrow in scope. You do not get as good a sense of his character and importance in this book. First read a general biography or account of England and WW II. Seapower is more detailed and better for a reader interested in naval histories. ( )
  RChurch | Aug 29, 2013 |
Not quite as systematic a study as I had hoped, as the book feels more like a series of case studies than an integrated whole. Still, Bell makes a strong counter-arguement to British navalists in regards to their position that Churchill was a failure in terms of maritime policy, if only by demonstrating that many of Churchill's supposed mistakes (Gallipoli, Norway, Singapore, etc.) were much more collective failures than have been presumed and proving that Churchill did try to fairly balance means and ends in his strategic calculus.

The single biggest issue might simply come down to Churchill not being interested in naval power for its own sake and being overly focused on offensive action against the main enemy, even if it could only be achieved in a secondary theater. Essentially, Bell considers Churchill's biggest error in naval affairs to have been the failure to grant more resources to the Battle of the Atlantic in 1942 in the debate over how many heavy bombers to divert to the ASW effort; a product of Churchill's blindspot in regards to strategic defense.

By the end of the book one does come to the conclusion that the likes of Stephen Roskill and Correlli Barnett essentially scapegoated Churchill for not catering to the Royal Navy's imagined perogatives as the senior service (particularly with the rise of the RAF) and that Churchill's supposed failures in naval policy are more an indication of the limits of British imperial power in global war then any particular fault of the man. ( )
  Shrike58 | Jun 12, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I have read quite a bit about Churchill over the years and was looking forward to reading this book. It took me a long time to work my way through this book. It is worth reading but only if you already familiar with at least one other Churchill biography. This is a very well researched book but not for someone new to Churchill. The footnotes are extensive and it presents many of the 'facts' surrounding decisions Churchill made and if you are a serious reader of history you will want this book. I personally have bought the book after reading this advance copy but I only gave it three stars as a warning to someone that is a casual reader on this topic. ( )
  lylebowlin | Jun 1, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This another addition to the life of Winston Churchill. Well researched and a valuable addition to the Churchill history. This a great reference piece for another aspect of Churchill. ( )
  corgiiman | Apr 20, 2013 |
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It seems almost obligatory these days for new books about Winston Churchill to begin with a rationalization for their existence, and this strikes me as a healthy trend.
Historians have struggled to explain Churchill's position on defence spending as Chancellor of the Exchequer. How could the prophet who foresaw the dangers from Nazi Germany and, later, the Soviet Union have openly ridiculed the idea of war with Japan? How could the architect of the Anglo-American "special relationship" during the Second World War have taken such a hard line towards the United States? And, most perplexing of all, how could Churchill's reputation as the champion of the armed forces prior to both world wars be reconciled with his aggressive pursuit of economy and fierce attacks on service policies during the 1920s?
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0199693579, Hardcover)

Winston Churchill had a longer and closer relationship with the Royal Navy than any British statesman in modern times, but his record as a naval strategist and custodian of the nation's sea power has been mired in controversy since the ill-fated Dardanelles campaign in 1915. Today, Churchill is still regarded by many as an inept strategist who interfered in naval operations and often overrode his professional advisers--with inevitably disastrous results.

Churchill and Seapower is the first major study of Winston Churchill's record as a naval strategist and his impact as the most prominent guardian of Britain's sea power in the modern era. Based on extensive archival research, the book debunks many popular and well-entrenched myths surrounding controversial episodes in both World Wars, including the Dardanelles disaster, the failed Norwegian Campaign, the Battle of the Atlantic, and the devastating loss of the Prince of Wales and Repulse in 1941. It shows that many common criticisms of Churchill have been exaggerated, but also that some of his mistakes have been largely overlooked--such as his willingness to prolong the Battle of the Atlantic in order to concentrate resources on the bombing campaign against Nazi Germany.

The book also examines Churchill's evolution as a maritime strategist over the course of his career, and documents his critical part in managing Britain's naval decline during the first half of the twentieth century. Churchill's genuine affection for the Royal Navy has often distracted attention from the fact that his views on sea power were pragmatic and unsentimental. Indeed, as Christopher M. Bell shows, in a period dominated by declining resources, global threats, and rapid technological change, it was increasingly air rather than sea power that Churchill looked to as the foundation of Britain's security.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:49 -0400)

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