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Tirpitz and the Imperial German Navy Hardcover – May 3, 2011

5.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"[T]he book is stellar. It is based on decades of research in federal, regional, and private archives and takes into account a flood of scholarship on Tirpitz and the fleet. Well written and sensibly organized, the book allows English-language readers their first in-depth look at one of the men who helped shape the 20th century." ―Naval History, October 2011



"Kelly's book is a great achievement. Well written and based on new sources, his biography of Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz allows the reader deep insights into the life of a man who played a very important role at the turn of the last century and who, like almost nobody else, shaped German policy." ―International Journal of Maritime History



"Beyond its great interest for naval and military historians regardless of specialization, this work will be required reading for any... historian of the Second Reich and the interwar period... and for those fascinated by the eternal query, 'Who or what caused the outbreak of the First World War?'" ―Eric C. Rust, author of Naval Officers Under Hitler: The Story of Crew 34



"This is an invaluable reference work on Tirpitz, the Imperial German Navy, and on politics in Wilhelmine Germany." ―The Northern Mariner



"[This] book presents a balanced, convincing picture of Tirpitz as naval officer and bureaucratic politician, based on a thorough examination of the relevant archival sources. It is a distinguished contribution to the historiography of imperial Germany." ―Journal of Modern History



"As both a definitive biography and detailed evaluation of the historiography of this period, Kelly has produced a compelling portrait of Tirpitz that balances the views of those scholars who have overestimated Tirpitz’s rationality in political, social and military affairs with those who underestimated his opportunism." ―Keith Bird, author of Erich Raeder: Admiral of the Third Reich



"Although this is a scholarly biography, it is in everyway quite readable. Backed by solid research, using untapped and newly available documents and family letters, Kelly has produced a clear picture of one of the major causes of World War I." ―thepastinreview.weebly.com



"Patrick Kelly has written the first major scholarly biography of Tirpitz in English, based on detailed knowledge of vast archival material and an extensive historical literature. With great precision, Kelly’s narrative integrates Tirpitz’s naval and political careers with broader developments within the German Empire and the Weimar Republic. He also treats in detail the international politics of Wilhelmine arms policy, the naval race with Britain, and the ensuing First World War. This book can be thoroughly recommended to students of both German and naval history." ―Rolf Hobson, author of Imperialism at Sea: Naval Strategic Thought, the Ideology of Sea Power, and the Tirpitz Plan, 1875-1914



"Kelly's book is a great achievement. Well written and based on new sources, his biography of Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz allows the reader deep insights into the life of a man who played a very important role at the turn of the last century and who shaped German policy in a way few others did." ―gh.oxfordjournals.org



"The author does a masterful job of analyzing Tirpitz' political skills, his mastery of technology and change, as well as the grave weaknesses of the dysfunctional political system of a federal Germany headed by a weak and vacillating Emperor and riven by unbridgeable political divisions. Highly recommended." ―Camaraderie, Summer 2011



"Patrick Kelly has produced a first-rate biography of this grand admiral who is better known for his political skills than his naval ones." ―U.S. Naval Insitute Proceedings



"An invaluable addition to military biography shelves, Tirpitz and the Imperial German Navy is especially recommended for college library collections." ―Midwest Book Review, August 2011



"Kelly's fascinating political biography of Alfred von Tirpitz joins the large historiography on German naval policy prior to WWI.... Recommended." ―Choice



"How, as a naval officer, [Tirpitz]... became probably the second most effective politician in the history of Imperial Germany is a fascinating story. It is well told in this large, comprehensive and extensively researched book." ―Ausmarine

About the Author

Patrick J. Kelly is Professor of History at Adelphi University.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press; First American Edition edition (May 3, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253355931
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253355935
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,725,954 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By david l. poremba VINE VOICE on March 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Anyone with an interest in German history, especially its navy during the Second Reich, could do no worse than to start here, with the first major biography in English of Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz. This career naval officer was responsible for the making of the Imperial German Navy of 1914, rivaling Great Britain in the race to control the high seas - the first great arms race of the twentieth century.
Kelly begins with a short family history, then launches into Tirpitz's professional career, describing his various postings and initial taste of combat during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871. His assignment to the Torpedo Arm in the late 1870's placed him on the fast career track. With good timing and fortune, Tirpitz came to the attention of and impressed several senior officers. Two in particular would play important parts in his rise to high rank and power; Chief of the Admiralty Count Leo von Caprivi and Albrecht von Stosch. By the 1890's, Tirpitz was Chief of Staff of the Naval High Command and had added politics to his growing resume. He would remain at this post until 1916, when, unsuited for an active command after so many years behind a desk, he fell out of favor and resigned. He had completed his life's work of providing Germany with a modern fleet, unfortunately, to no avail.
Although this is a scholarly biography, it is in everyway quite readable. Backed by solid research, using untapped and newly available documents and family letters, Kelly has produced a clear picture of one of the major causes of World War I.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After reading The Guns Of August a few years ago, looking at the start of World War I, someone recommended reading Dr. Kelly's book for continued study. Very good recommendation.

I knew little of the German navy and absolutely nothing about Admiral Von Tirpitz. Thanks to this wonderful book, I know a whole lot more.

Kelly avoids a trap found in many biographies, he does not make it into a hagiography. He makes a very convincing argument that this career navy man was a brilliant politician who knew he needed the Reichstag's approval to build his navy. He covers Tirpitz's work with the Torpedo Gang thoroughly and follows Tirpitz through the rest of his career.

Particularly wonderful was the way Kelly would back off the narrative and summarize/clarify various points he recently covered. It is an extremely effective tool and it really helped me understand what was going on.

Particularly fascinating is Kelly's coverage of Tirpitz after the war broke out. Tirpitz' policies during the war were controversial and Kelly does not duck anything in his coverage of them.

Sometimes it is hard in a book like this to separate the writer versus the subject. As I read this book, I kept thinking that in the hands of another writer, this could have been a very very dry and boring book. That is was not is testimony to Kelly's writing.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Patrick Kelly's Tirpitz and the Imperial German Navy is, without qualification, a work of outstanding history. Kelly adroitly analyzes the life of Alfred Tirpitz in relation to the rise of the Wilhelmian German navy. His ability to clearly explain the political background and nuances in which Tirpitz operated allows not only professional historians, but also lay readers, to appreciate the circumstances of German naval growth prior to World War I. Even more impressive is Kelly's consistently fair and incisive analysis of the Grand Admiral. By the book's conclusion, readers are left with an intelligent framework in which to place and evaluate him.

Balancing the work of previous historians and, more significantly, integrating numerous primary (often German) sources, Kelly provides a work that should prove difficult to challenge. Of course, any book focusing on the German Empire prior to World War I will naturally offer insight, however indirectly, on the factors that led to war. Tirpitz and the Imperial German Navy is no exception.

Whether you read Patrick Kelly's historical masterpiece to appreciate the paradoxical triumph and failure of one of the German Empire's most important figures or, rather, to reach a more sophisticated understanding of how German actions might have contributed to the First World War makes no difference. In either case, to interested students of history, Tirpitz and the Imperial German Navy will not disappoint!
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