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Sir John Fisher's Naval Revolution (Studies in Maritime History) Paperback – August 1, 2002

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Product Details

  • Series: Studies in Maritime History
  • Paperback: 428 pages
  • Publisher: University of South Carolina Press (August 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570034923
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570034923
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,006,733 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This is a very good book and a very important one. . . . Lambert's command of the primary sources is remarkable ....His treatment not only lays bare the superficial nature of much previous historical research in this era but also indicates the degree to which that superficiality has caused our understanding of the period to be profoundly flawed."
--Naval War College Review

"This is a superb, scholarly study ....Lambert provides a brilliant, incisive insight into the challenges of naval force development in a period of rapid change ....The tools of the trade that Lambert uses to construct his analysis are his remarkable--one might even say awesome--research, an interpretive skill that allows him to reconcile divergent threads that previous historians have been unable to knit together, and a competent narrative style."
--The American Neptune

"This extraordinary book examines the radical and multi-faceted solution to the problem of British naval defense in the early 20th century devised by Admiral Sir John Fisher ....His study is based upon an intensive investigation of archival sources that surpasses all previous work on the Royal Navy in the steam era."

From the Back Cover

Winner of the Society of Military History's 2000 Distinguished Book Award.
Winner of The Western Front Association's 2000 Norman B. Tomlinson Prize.

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Customer Reviews

An highly professional, but fascinating book to read.
Giancarlo Bussetti
The purported revolution of the title was most unexpected and the tactics involved were downright sneaky to the point of brilliance.
Lambert's story of the Royal Navy before 1914 presents a picture completely different from the accepted one.
Soren Swigart

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Steven Zoraster on March 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a major revisionist interpretation of British naval policy as conceived and carried out by Admiral Sir John Fisher as First Sea Lord between late 1904 and early 1910. In fact, there appears to be hardly a single conventional assumption about Fisher's policies, and the policies and technical flexibility of the Admiralty during this period that is not subject to reconsideration in the book.
What I found most interesting was the startling - to me - degree to which senior British naval officers readily accepted the potential for torpedo-armed submarine and destroyer flotillas to change naval warfare, and the amount of effort they were willing to put into devising ways to use this revolutionary potential to reinforce British naval supremacy. The book is filled with descriptions of British investment in submarine technology and the ongoing discussions between naval officers of ways to adapt that technology to British needs.
According to the book, Fisher's planned great revolution in naval warfare was not intended to be the Dreadnought battleship that his name is still commonly associated with. Instead it was to be a British fleet made up of a combination of battlecruisers with Dreadnought-scale heavy armament, great speed, and excellent gun laying based on analogue computers, designed for overseas force projection; and a submarines and destroyer flotillas designed and deployed for protection of Great Britain and such other narrow seas where they could be used to bottle up potential enemy forces. This assertion is thoroughly backed up with detailed quotes from personal letters and Admiralty memos and position papers, plus the evidence of how Fisher spent funds available to him.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Soren Swigart on January 19, 2007
Format: Paperback
In Sir John Fisher's Naval Revolution Nicholas Lambert has provided a comprehensive analysis of the policies of Admiral Sir John Fisher and the Royal Navy in the ten years before the outbreak of World War One. Displaying a remarkable command of the source documents Lambert examines grand strategy, tactical concepts, national financial policy and politics with great skill and fluidly moves between these seemingly disparate subjects with ease. It becomes apparent as Lambert dissects events that much of the research that has went on before on this subject and which forms the basis for many people's ideas about era is superficial and incomplete.

This is a complicated subject but Lambert's grasp of narrative and clean clear prose makes it easy for the interested reader to follow the string through the maze that was British naval policy in the Fisher era. Lambert makes it clear that Fisher was not appointed First Sea Lord in 1904 to introduce the dreadnought battleship/battlecruiser but to cut naval spending. This fact spurred Fisher to introduce new technologies to maintain Britain's naval supremacy when that supremacy was increasingly under threat from a number of quarters. Lambert puts emphasis on Fisher's ideas about the use of flotilla craft. These were small submersible boats and surface craft armed with torpedoes that could close the narrow seas around the British Isles to enemy battle fleets thus freeing the British fleet to roam the high seas, bringing battle to the enemy and protecting her own huge ocean trade. Lambert shows how on the eve of the war, the Royal Navy was on the verge of stopping battleship construction altogether on favor of flotilla craft. This is new ground.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By T. Graczewski VINE VOICE on May 16, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Naval policy before the First World War and the so-called Dreadnought revolution is a fascinating case study in strategic defense policy and there are many notable pieces of historiography on the subject (Marder, Sumida, Massie, etc.). Nicholas Lambert's contribution to the debate, "Sir John Fisher's Naval Revolution," is a daring revision of just about everything you've read before, so hold on to your seats.

The author begins by emphasizing that insufficient government finance was the overriding problem for defense planners. The challenge was created by the rapidly increasing cost of modern navy ships combined with the capital depreciation resulting from the shortened service lives of the new platforms. (The cost of building a Dreadnought class battleship doubled and that of cruisers went up fivefold while the service life of the new ships dropped by fifteen years.) The situation was exacerbated by liberal British governments of the early nineteenth century that were committed to massive domestic social programs. And the modern reader needs to remember the deficit spending was out of the question to the fiscally responsible governments of this period. There simply wasn't enough money to go around, especially for the already bloated naval budget.

The author argues that previous histories have got this period completely wrong, mostly because they have taken the direct, obvious approach: that Fisher's sole aim was to prepare the British Navy for the looming war with Germany. Lambert rejects this thesis entirely. He writes that Fisher was not unduly concerned by the High Seas Fleet and held on to the goal of the British Navy as guardian of the empire via the two power standard.
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