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Yangtze River Gunboats 1900-49 (New Vanguard) Paperback – June 21, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“This monograph presents the true story of the gunboats from the U.S. Navy and the navies of many European powers and Japan that patrolled the Yangtze River, protecting missionaries and trade and diplomatic outposts, as well as countering warlords and pirates. Each type of gunboat is described in detail, but even more valuable are the descriptions of life on the gunboats and the exotic political and cultural environment in which they operated.” ―Richard R. Burgess, Seapower(September 2011)

“This is another well written [Osprey] book. It details the early days of the river boat force and carries the reader up until the end of the riverboat force in 1949.” ―Jim Adams, AeroScale

“Provides a fine survey of early gunboats that protected traders and missionaries from the end of the 19th century to the first half of the 20th ... Any China or military history library will find this specific and informative.” ―The Midwest Book Review (September 2011)

About the Author

Angus Konstam hails from the Orkney Islands, and is the author of over 50 books, 30 of which are published by Osprey. This acclaimed and widely published author has written several books on piracy, including The History of Pirates and Blackbeard: America's Most Notorious Pirate. A former naval officer and museum professional, he worked as the Curator of Weapons at the Tower of London and as the Chief Curator of the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West, Florida. He now works as a full-time author and historian, and lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.
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Product Details

  • Series: New Vanguard (Book 181)
  • Paperback: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing; First Edition. First Printing. edition (June 21, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849084084
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849084086
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 0.2 x 9.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #779,250 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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About all I knew about this topic before reading the book came from the movie Sand Pebbles and the sinking of the Panay. This book broadened my perspective quite a bit. It starts with a chronological overview of the rivers and the gunboats in China (about half the book) and then spends the rest of the time on the designs of the gunboats and what life was like for those aboard the boats. I was surprised to learn that some early U. S. boats were captured from Spain during the Spanish-American War. The countries with gunboats in China include the usual imperial powers plus even the Italians! I was also not aware that the Japanese were so heavily involved this way in China prior to 1931.

My biggest problem is one that I have heard repeated in so many reviews of military books on this site. There are no maps! You would think that maps would be important. Another problem is that the author excuses his lack of coverage of all but the British and American gunboats by saying, "Space precludes a similar treatment of Japanese and French gunboats, or those of lesser maritime powers."
Space should not be an excuse for a book that totals just 48 pages! However, I know that the Osprey Series is characterized by broad overviews in few pages.

Lots of photos and very well done drawings. At the end, I was "wanting more" but wondering just how much "more" I really wanted or needed. This is an excellent overview of the topic and I feel like I learned a lot. The "problems" reduced the rating to four stars.
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Format: Paperback
As I have mentioned so often before, I come to the subject of ships (and boats, subs and the sea etc, etc!) as a professional shipwreck historian with over 40 years experience as an active diver. As such, I like to discover every last nut and bolt of information about whatever shipwreck I happen to be studying at the time. One of my permanent dilemmas is the true identity - and, therefore, accurate history, of a small wreck found upside down at a depth of 20m in Ormedia Bay, Cyprus. According to the best possible research resources this is the wreck of HMS Cricket - a former RN Insect Class Gunboat. The perennial problem, however, is that so many books on the subject of this class of vessel and even the Royal Navy's own historical department as well!, all insist that all these boats were scrapped or lost and none could, therefore, possibly be in Cyprus. Specifically, HMS Cricket was laid up in Alexandria in late 1941 and later broken up and sold to local merchants.

In this book, however, established author Angus Konstam reveals in 1940 HMS Cricket was sent to the Mediterranean...

Small point perhaps, but this is the first record I have discovered of HMS Cricket having served in the Mediterranean and it takes every small snippet of information to complete the jigsaw of information pertaining to any lost vessel.

As for the remainder of the work, this is another lightweight book typical of the style of Osprey Publishing. Do not let that, however, put you off. The price reflects the size of the product and, all things considered, I consider this series of books as good value for money.
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By K.Schneider on September 19, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have written several book reviews on amazon over the years. But I will say this about Mr. Konstams book on Yangtze River Gunboats. EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT,EXCELLENT. He has take a very large and mostly unknow subject and catpulted into the main stream. It makes the read feel and understand the subject in a very short 48 pages.

Mr. Bryans drawings help the read see what this boats were like and how they differ from the blue water navy we read so much about. His art work is number one!

I dont want to review the book as I normal would. Instead BUY it and enjoy it...it is worth every penny.
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This is a thin book which highlights all the Gunboats the Asiatic Fleet had on the Chinese Rivers from 1900. In 1937 the Japanese bombed and sank the USS Panay on the Yangtze River near Nanking. This almost precipitated the war with Japan.4 years earlier than Pearl Harbor. Some of these gunboats did flee China just prior to December 7, 1941, and participated in the defense of the Phillippine Islands. This is a good book to own if you are interested in the Asiatic Fleet history.
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Though I am aware of other treatments on this topic (e.g., Yangtze Patrol; Gunboats on the Great River; The Real Sand Pebbles; and others), this work serves well its purpose of introducing readers to the history and hazards of duty of the gunboats which plied the Yangtze River from the turn of the century to 1949. The author provides not only the history but also the details of all gunboats of the US, Britain, Japan, Italy, and Germany. The only flaw, and a frustrating one it is too! - is the total lack of maps. One would suspect to find AT LEAST a map of the river along with the cities that are referenced throughout - but sadly, no. One is forced to seek out additional references just to be able to put things in a proper geographical context. The work would have been given 5 stars were it not for being continually frustrated over having to seek out other works for a point of reference.
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