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To Rule the Waves: How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World (P.S.) Paperback – Bargain Price, October 25, 2005
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Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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It is, therefore, disappointing that such a fine book should be handicapped by numerous factual errors. Cartagena is not the capital of Venezuela. Napoleon's "crushing defeat" at Waterloo occurred on June 18, 1815 - not June 15. It is also difficult to accept the statement that the Battle of Trafalgar had all been for nothing, even "in a sense."
By the time the author reaches the twentieth century, one has the impression that he was running out of time or patience. The factual errors increase. The King George V class of battleships were not equipped with 16-inch guns to match the latest American and Japanese battleships. Unlike the Americans, the British had to proceed with the KGVs at an earlier date to address the German threat, and they given their unusual arrangement of ten 14-inch guns as a result. To be fair, the author does get the armament of this class of battleship correct later in his text. The Tribal class destroyer had a crew of between 190 and 226. The statement that Matabele was sunk with the loss of all but two of her crew of 4,000 is wildly inaccurate. The ship that assisted Duke of York in the sinking of the Scharnhorst, was the light cruiser Jamaica. This ship is incorrectly described by the author as a destroyer. Admiral Halsey did not participate actively in the Battle of Midway.Read more ›
Hoping that this was simply an isolated case of sloppy writing and editing, I continued to read in the book. On page 282, I was startled by still another absurdity, "The British navy enabled Clive to beat his rival Dupleix at the battle of Plassey in 1757..". Really? How did he manage to do so, when: (i) Dupleix (the governor of the French colony at Pondicherry) had already been recalled in 1754; and, (ii) Clive fought the forces of a local Indian prince, the Nawab of Bengal (Siraj ud Daulah), at Plassey (in Bengal, nowhere near the battles in the Carnatic to which Mr. Herman refers) and there were no French troops in this battle? These are not complex questions of fact - Mr. Herman could easily refer to any standard history of India, or if he felt inclined to a bit more research, to more specialized histories of the rise of British power in India.
Apart from errors of fact, there are questions of judgment. Is it really accurate to refer to Napoleon at the relief of Toulon as a "committed terrorist"? What on earth does this mean? He had written one anti-Paoli essay,a piece of Jacobin propaganda, and met Robespierre. But he was inserted into a position in the French forces relieving Toulon by Saliceti, a "depute en mission", who knew the Bonapartes from Corsica. Perhaps Mr.Read more ›
If I am assured that Herman's history is more accurate concerning the earlier chapters of British naval development, then I am forced to say that his history and understanding of the "modern" British navy, beginning with the introduction of steam and armored warships, is very weak, and that his understanding of the naval side of World War I is even weaker. For those interested in this period of history, Robert Massie's books "Dreadnought" and "Castles of Steel" are just a readable, if not more so, and far more accurate and understanding, with a wealth of political and technical background which Herman clearly does not grasp.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Good read but nothing new for true readers of this genre', in fact analysis is a bit week.Published 3 months ago by RK
A book to rule the readers, magnificent historical researchPublished 4 months ago by GIANNIS THEODORATOS
Why read a history of the British Navy? Why read a history of a Navy? A partial answer is that war is always entertaining. Read morePublished 4 months ago by anupamifs
Pretty solid book, but there were some factual errors that I picked up on (unfortunately I read it several months ago and didn't take notes).Published 9 months ago by Gregory Haroutunian
I can't believe Mr. Herman is a historian. I've read only one quarter of the book, and i decided to quit because of the unforgivable mistakes all over the text. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Surenas
Although the book was advertised as "used," it was in "like-new" condition. This book is for a research product for my class at the university. Read morePublished 24 months ago by Mark Devenney
I would have thought someone could have checked a detail like that, but the Union Jack on the dust jacket is upside down. Read morePublished on January 12, 2014 by Amazon Customer