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The World's Worst Warships: The Failures and Repercussions of Naval Design and Construction, 1860 to the present day Hardcover – February, 2002
Written by two of Britain's finest warship experts, the book covers a wide range of experimental, badly designed or just disastrous ship types from all national ties from 1860 to present day.
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If you have an interest in naval history, the selection of vessels will make you scratch your head at time, nod in agreement at times, shake you hear in disbelief at times (the Novgorod class ships in particular), sigh from times to time, and even have an occasional chuckle (that Novgorod class again).
Normally, I would have awarded four stars.
But there is a problem with this book. The combination of the paper and typeface chosen for the publication make it very difficult to read. The paper is a coated stock, and has a fair bit of sheen to it, great for photos, but it also means that at certain angles, the bright light glares from the pages, making reading harder than it needs to be.
Bright Light? What's this about a Bright Light? Well, you need to read this book in a bright light, because the author/publisher made a very poor choice for the typeface used in the book. They chose Bembo, which has a small 'x-height', meaning the height of the lower case letters is short compared to the capitals. Not a font often chosen for books, as it is harder to read because of the x-height issue. Bembo is more frequently used for short passages in moderate sizes, where's it beauty can be appreciated.
But what's worse is that they set the book in Bembo 9 point. Nine point! Almost all books are set in a size between 10 and 12 points, and for a good reason-anything smaller is hard to read, especially in long passages. Photo captions are often set smaller than the normal text size, and 9 point fonts are often used for that purpose. But 9 points is difficult to read when used as the primary or book font. By the way, I am not guessing that they used 9 point Bembo, it's listed on the back of the title page, sometimes called the colophon.
Taken together, the combination of semi-gloss paper and a small, harder-than-average to read font makes reading this book less than pleasant. Minus one star for printing and publishing, and so my final rating is 3 stars.
There are quite a variety of reasons for a ship cited as being an example of a worst warship. Poor naval engineering is actually a minority reason. Far more often, the problems lie elsewhere: inadequate government funding, the naval general staff demanding too much on too small a hull, designers trying to advance an immature technology, designers still using old and obsolete technology, poor conception of the operational and tactical reasons for building the ships in the first place, political interference in the design and construction of the ships, constructing the ships for political instead of naval reasons, the designers and the naval leadership focusing too much on one aspect of the ship (such as armament) instead of adequately considering less visible features such as sea keeping, providing the ships with what was known at the time (by at least some people) to be inadequate armament, the government or the naval staff attempting to construct advanced warships (in number or size) with an inadequate industrial base, and so forth. All these reason are discussed in the various "worst warships" examples.
To a certain extent, I think the title is an exaggeration. But that's the sort of thing that sells to most of the reading public. I think a more realistic title would have been something like "The World's Most Inadequately Designed Warships and the Reasons Why It Happened." I doubt, though, that would sell very well.
In my opinion, if you want to read fairly objective and rational reasons why the cited examples were poor warships, then this is a pretty good book. That requires the reader to be somewhat knowledgable on how warships get designed or at least have an open mind on learning how it occurs. Based on several of the earlier reviews I have read, not very many readers seem willing or able to take that approach.
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even if I do not always share the standpoints and the evaluations of the author