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Struggle for the Middle Sea: The Great Navies at War in the Mediterranean Theater, 1940-1945 Paperback – February 15, 2015
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“In essence, Mr. O'Hara has given us a straightforward account of the naval war in the Mediterranean and proved his point that the Italian navy functioned in a professional and courageous manner. It is a welcome and clarifying addition to the existing literature on the Mediterranean campaign.” ―Sol Schindler, The Washington Times
“.A remarkably thorough narrative and analysis of a complicated topic. . . .The breadth and depth of the author's research is impressive. The text is thoroughly supported by endnotes and an excellent biography―a balanced assortment of published and unpublished official records of Italian, British, French, and German sources inspires confidence. The narrative, written in a clear, workman-like style, is supported by extensive graphics. . . .This book belongs in any respectable library of World War II naval scholarship. Readers already familiar with the subject almost certainly will find something new in its narrative and interpretations, and newcomers to the field will find it an excellent place to start.” ―Nautical Research Journal
“Vince O’Hara has been a serious chronicler of the surface engagements of World War II and has now added the Mediterranean to the saga. The numerous surface actions in World War II still offer lessons for all of us in the 21st century. O’Hara’s goal of expanding our understanding with extensive research in four languages and being very readable has been achieved with the third in his series in Struggle for the Middle Sea.” ―Jack Greene, co-author of Rommel’s North Africa Campaign: September 1940–November 1942
“Many previous histories of the war in the Mediterranean have been colored by an implicit acceptance of a well-established mythology. Vince O’Hara brings a fresh approach to the conflict in this theater by exploring the strategic objectives and the performance of the major combatants in a balanced way. His extension of the account to include the French and the Americans is to be commended.” ―John Jordan, editor, Warship
“In a concise but comprehensive narrative, O’Hara deftly examines the strategies and expertly presents the campaigns of each of the major naval powers waged in the Middle Sea between 1940 and 1945. With a fresh perspective, he illustrates just how frustrating a naval theater the Mediterranean was for everyone, and yet how the respective navies largely met their objectives. As the author shows, littoral warfare in the Mediterranean was unexpectedly demanding, a lesson that still must be heeded today.” ―Karl Zingheim, Historian, USS Midway Museum
“O’Hara steamrolls the chauvinism and ‘common knowledge’ that have obscured what actually happened in the Mediterranean, and gives his readers what they have come to expect―both sides of a gritty story.” ―Richard Worth, author of Fleets of World War II
“A fresh and comprehensive examination of surface combat in the Mediterranean in World War II, Struggle for the Middle Sea offers detailed accounts of the actions of the five major navies including forgotten or neglected aspects such as the Royal Navy’s costly Aegean campaign and German efforts in the Adriatic, Aegean, and off the coast of Italy following the Italian armistice. O’Hara’s careful analysis also sheds new light on the successful maritime strategy and often credible performance of the Italian Navy. An insightful and important contribution to our understanding of the naval war in the Mediterranean.” ―Barbara Brooks Tomblin, author of With Utmost Spirit: Allied Naval Operations in the Mediterranean, 1942–1945
From the Back Cover
“A welcome and clarifying addition to the existing literature on the Mediterranean campaign.” ―The Washington Times
“. . . .A remarkably thorough narrative and analysis of a complicated topic. . . .The breadth and depth of the author's research is impressive….This book belongs in any respectable library of World War II naval scholarship. Readers already familiar with the subject almost certainly will find something new in its narrative and interpretations, and newcomers to the field will find it an excellent place to start.” ―Nautical Research Journal
“A new and stunningly important view of World War II…a fabulously readable and important book.” ―Defense & Foreign Affairs Strategy Policy
The Mediterranean is the maritime crossroads where Europe, Asia, and Africa meet. More major naval actions were fought there than in the Atlantic or Pacific yet remarkably little has been written about the subject. This fresh study of the Mediterranean’s naval war analyzes the actions and performances of the five major navies―British, Italian, French, German, and American―during the entire five-year campaign and examines the national imperatives that drove each nation’s maritime strategy. Struggle for the Middle Sea provides a history of the entire campaign from all perspectives and covers Germany’s largely unknown―and remarkably successful―struggle to employ sea power in the Mediterranean after the Italian armistice.
Vincent P. O’Hara is a naval historian and the author and editor of numerous books including To Crown the Waves and On Seas Contested. He holds a history degree from the University of California at Berkeley and lives in Chula Vista, CA.
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Top Customer Reviews
To some extent this work is meant as an antidote for Anglo-centric (and German) accounts of the naval war in the Med which focus on Italy's failure to win, or even participate in, a decisive surface action in the Nelsonian tradition. O'Hara's thesis is that Italy ground out the naval war of attrition that was best suited to its war aims and limited capabilities. In the Central Med the Regia Marina generally succeeded in achieving it's goal of sea control. The author's view is that while the Royal Navy was certainly successful in winning "sea control victories," strategically speaking it simply had its feet set wrong. His key point is summarized on page 259: "With regard to Italy's mercantile war ... 98 percent of the men and 90 percent of the material that set forth from Italian ports for Libya, Tunisia, of the Balkans arrived safely."
Those who enjoy naval games and simulations will find a lot to like here regardless of whether they agree with O'Hara's overall thesis. By his definition Italian warships (from minesweepers on up to battleships,) participated in 34 of the 55 major surface actions fought in the Mediterranean (including the Red Sea,) during the 5 years of WW2. The accounts of all 55 battles includes an order of battle table listing the ships (by type,) formations, and commanders involved. And, as befits a work with a tactical focus, there are lots of maps and tactical illustrations (27 to be exact,) to help place the operations in perspective. Of course the fights sparked off by Allied attempts to run convoys through to Malta are included but, again, O'Hara's framework ALSO shows the many battles that were fought over Italian convoys etc...
This book strikes me as a perfect complement for Greene and Massignani's THE NAVAL WAR IN THE MEDITERRANEAN 1940-1943 or (so I'm told,) De Belot's THE STRUGGLE FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN 1939-1945. The reason I say this is that things like grand strategy, economics, diplomacy, Taranto, special forces and the submarine war are mentioned in perspective but given very little direct focus or analysis in this work. Therefore it shouldn't be your first book on the Med. Overall, however, I think this will be a worthwhile addition to almost anybody's WW2 naval library; most particularly if you are looking for a detailed accounting of tactical surface actions fought by escorts, destroyers and cruisers of the Italian Navy.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
is rewarding. However, I would not recommend for
a general reader as it got tangled up in details that