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Winston Churchill as First Lord of the Admiralty is the central figure in naval historian van Der Vat's (The Ship that Changed the World) account of a disaster that prolonged the Great War by two years and laid the groundwork for the collapse of the czarist and Ottoman empires. The plan to take the Dardanelles strait was Churchillian in its conception: "the boldest strategic concept" of WWI, designed to simultaneously outflank a deadlocked Western Front and open a supply route to Russia. Its promise was thwarted by incompetent execution-beginning with Churchill's insistence on the navy forcing the Dardanelles alone, without ground troop support. The Royal Navy's predictable inability to push its battleships past the guns and minefields defending the Dardanelles forts in March 1915 followed the Allies' failure to intercept the German cruisers Goeben and Breslau before they reached Turkish waters and triggered the German-Ottoman alliance. An improvised land campaign undertaken with poorly trained troops whose senior commanders set unsurpassed standards of ineptitude ensued. General readers will find enlightening this extended demonstration of the contributions command can make to catastrophe. (July 14)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.