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The Rules of the Game: Jutland and British…

The Rules of the Game: Jutland and British Naval Command

by Andrew Gordon

Other authors: Admiral Sir John Woodward (Foreword)

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A detailed analysis of the British 'performance' at the Battle of Jutland and of the naval 'politics' which led to the
Royal Navy developing as it did. Much for the general reader and for those with a special interest in naval history
and tactics/strategy. A long and fascinating read. ( )
  captbirdseye | Feb 9, 2014 |
Andrew Gordon has produced a truly stunning work that appeals to both the naval tactician as well as the less learned reader with an interest in naval history. Beyond that, however, it is thoughtful meditation on the way that cultural mores influence military engagements.

On October 21, 1805, the English fleet, under the command of Lord Nelson smashed the combined French and Spanish fleet off Cape Trafalgar, guaranteeing that fortress England would remain unassailed by Napoleon's vast continental armies. It was a signature victory for the dashing and charismatic Nelson and, though it would cost him his life, it would also ensure his immortality. More than 100 years later, in 1916, the Grand Fleet of the Royal Navy, under the command of Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, engaged the German High Seas Fleet near Jutland, Denmark. Unlike Trafalgar, however, the German fleet was able to slip away following the battle without either side achieving a crushing victory. Indeed, both sides would subsequently claim tactical victory. Within the English naval establishment (including the historical community) an equally contentious conflict would quickly develop concerning who within the Grand Fleet was to "blame" for the English inability to bring about a second Trafalgar.

What happened during the intervening years between 1805 and 1916 that so changed the demeanor of the English navy and lead to such disparate results in two major fleet actions? It is a intriguing question and one that Gordon probes with intelligence, insight, and eloquence. Finishing this hefty book, one is left with a great deal to think about indeed.

Bottom line is that the book functions equally well as an account of the Battle of Jutland and as an assessment of how the English naval ethos evolved between 1805 and 1917. There are times when the tactics get a little thick, but the book richly rewards the reader who weathers that particular storm. ( )
  NauticalFiction99 | Jun 28, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Andrew Gordonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Woodward, Admiral Sir JohnForewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0719561310, Paperback)

When hundreds of warships belonging to the two most powerful fleets in the world clashed off the coast of Denmark in 1916, the encounter had the potential to reshape the political map forever. However, there were devastating failures of communication and command and, while the Battle of Jutland met Britain's strategic need for continued maritime dominance, the Royal Navy failed to crush its numerically inferior German opponent. The encounter has remained an enduring source of controversy ever since. A remarkable saga of genius, tragedy, and passive corruption emerges. In telling this remarkable story of Nelsonic pragmatism overwhelmed by peacetime vested interests, Andrew Gordon shows what had changed for the worse in the "rules of the game" during a long century of peace, and draws fascinating and challenging conclusions.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:28 -0400)

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