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The Dardanelles Disaster: Winston Churchill's Greatest Failure Paperback – Bargain Price, September 28, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook TP; Reprint edition (September 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590203399
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590203392
  • ASIN: B00B1L986E
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,891,547 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Winston Churchill as First Lord of the Admiralty is the central figure in naval historian van Der Vat's (The Ship that Changed the World) account of a disaster that prolonged the Great War by two years and laid the groundwork for the collapse of the czarist and Ottoman empires. The plan to take the Dardanelles strait was Churchillian in its conception: the boldest strategic concept of WWI, designed to simultaneously outflank a deadlocked Western Front and open a supply route to Russia. Its promise was thwarted by incompetent execution—beginning with Churchill's insistence on the navy forcing the Dardanelles alone, without ground troop support. The Royal Navy's predictable inability to push its battleships past the guns and minefields defending the Dardanelles forts in March 1915 followed the Allies' failure to intercept the German cruisers Goeben and Breslau before they reached Turkish waters and triggered the German-Ottoman alliance. An improvised land campaign undertaken with poorly trained troops whose senior commanders set unsurpassed standards of ineptitude ensued. General readers will find enlightening this extended demonstration of the contributions command can make to catastrophe. (July 14)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"Van der Vat provides a dogged narrative." -Library Journal


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Customer Reviews

If you want a book covering the Gallipoli Campaign, I would recommend Alan Moorehead's book.
David C. Sherbrooke
While this may be somewhat intersting, it seems out of place in this book about a particular military operation.
L. Veid
The paper quality is very low (yellow/brown) for such an expensive hardback and not pleasant to read.
Andy K.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By L. Veid on July 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Royal Navy's attack on the Dardanelles, with the associated Gallipoli land campaign is well know as Churchill's worse idea in WWI. However, Mr. van der Vat makes it clear that Churchill had a great deal of help in bringing about this diaster.

The author does a workmanlike job of explaining why the British wanted to attack the Dardanelles, albeit with far too much emphasis on history, going all the way back to the immediate post-Trafalgar period. The conflicting ego trips among the senior political and military leaders are well presented, and explain why such an important military operation was conducted in such a poor manner. Everybody involved seemed to be making up the plan as they went along. It was very clear that the Royal Navy was in the grip of senior admirals who had not a clue as to operational and tactical realities after so many years of peace. The descriptions of the actual fighting are reasonably well done, but often confusing. Since I had only a cursory knowledge of this campaign, this book was useful to me, but I had to work very hard to get around some of Mr. van der Vat's obtuse prose.

The reader is "treated" to an extensive analysis of the post-war history of the region. While this may be somewhat intersting, it seems out of place in this book about a particular military operation.

The author seems allergic to charts, seldom including such in his books. This book, which covers a complex naval/ground operation occuring over months, has not one single chart or map. This is beyond the pale for any naval or military history. I also am uninterested in Mr. van der Vat's political opinions which consume the final chapter of the book.

Overall, this book has the feel of something cranked out to meet a contract, rather than to enlighten the reader. Too much of it is recycled from previous works and the physical quality of the book is below par.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Andy K. on July 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I know van der Vat from his earlier book "The Ship that Changed the World", first published in 1985.

In his new new book van der Vat is telling the story of the first phase of Gallipoli campaign, the Naval blunder at the Dardanelles Strait. It is a short book to tell such a story; only 226 pages including the index. The Naval battle is told between the pages 49 and 145; less than 100 pages. The rest of the book is on the background of this campaign, the escape of German battle cruiser Goeben to Istanbul through a powerful British flotilla and the following court-martial (parts from his earlier book above), the later lives of the players and the modern Turkey. The naval war is told very briefly without any new matter added to what is already known.

The quality of the book itself is another area worth mentioning. The paper quality is very low (yellow/brown) for such an expensive hardback and not pleasant to read.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By David C. Sherbrooke on December 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I would like to offer a slightly different take. If you want a book covering the Gallipoli Campaign, I would recommend Alan Moorehead's book. It has just about everything and still stands up well. This book, however, makes no pretention of covering the entire campaign. If you are interested in the decision making process (or lack thereof) to engage in this campaign, if you want to know more about the Admiralty investigation and how that process evolved, and if you want to know about the communications (or lack thereof!) between and within military and civilian leadership, then this book is for you. There are also lessons here for those who knew how to initiate step one but did not anticipate what would happen had the operation worked or had it failed. For example, even if the ships had forced the straits, what then? Clearly, there wasn't even much of a plan beyond the naval engagements until those engagements failed.

In short, don't blame the book for not being about all that was Gallipoli. This is not a book about a military campaign as much as it is an analysis of why and how the British wound up as they did and what they did once the withdrawal of land forces had taken place. However, it is an excellent read covering grand strategy and where it can conflict with tactical demands and/or short term goals. For my part, the inexcusable weakness, once again, is the lack of charts and maps.

PS - We all know that Gallipoli isn't the first or the last time a nation has embarked on a military campaign without "thinking ahead" about the consequences or ramifications of a military attack.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By H. Carey on February 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book is named the Dardanells Disaster. However the first third covers the SMS Goeben and the first few months of World War one in the Mediterranean. It is a slow read with several factual errors. You could call this book another book on the Goeben.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By G. Bruce Greer on July 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr Van Der Vat has written a number of excellent naval histories, and this book includes much of the materials he has amassed in his earlier research. The book is a bit thinner than his earlier works. The build up to the assault covers the history of the area, conflicts, personal and organizational and military/naval issues. The build up is the best of the book, pulling together much of his earlier stories. Maps, many more, would have helped (at least as many as pictures). Also, once the assualt, first naval then combined, starts, the pace of the story accelerates and moves very quickly, perhaps too quickly.
The main premise, the attack lengthened the war two years has a number of examples sprinkled in, but other than citing some other sources, not really proved. His Ship that Changed the World makes a better case, and may be a better case than his thesis in this book.
He does write well, covers much of the organizational issues with the Admiralty, as well as many of the shortcomings of Churchill as a leader of an organization that has no certain natural checks on his behavior. In this, combined with his earlier work on Turkey's entry into the war, he makes a case, but it is hard to support the dismissal of Churchill various strategic diversionary ideas and support the importance of Turkey as decisive in the war. He may be too quick to dismiss those who saw Turkey as a waste of effort. What is all too clear, is this operation was a mess at all levels, and could be used as how not to plan a successful attack and campaign.
Points might have been made on what was learned. The US Marines took this campaign to study and develop successful landing tactics from lessons learned. Mines and gunfire were able to stop the British (and French)Navy.
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