The Price of Admiralty: The Evolution of Naval Warfare

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John Keegan is an author whose books have revolutionized the writing of military history and deepened our understanding of human conflict.

In THE PRICE OF ADMIRALTY, Keegan illuminates naval operations from Nelson's day to our own. He does this by dissecting four benchmark sea battles: Trafalgar, wooden ships of the line; Jutland, ironclads; Midway, aircraft carriers; and the Battle of the Atlantic, which saw the perfection of submarines. Keegan believes that "by looking at its ...

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Overview

John Keegan is an author whose books have revolutionized the writing of military history and deepened our understanding of human conflict.

In THE PRICE OF ADMIRALTY, Keegan illuminates naval operations from Nelson's day to our own. He does this by dissecting four benchmark sea battles: Trafalgar, wooden ships of the line; Jutland, ironclads; Midway, aircraft carriers; and the Battle of the Atlantic, which saw the perfection of submarines. Keegan believes that "by looking at its past we may know the future of naval warfare."

"Keegan is a splendid historian, and his vision of the future of war at sea is grimly persuasive." (The Atlantic Monthly)

Keegan analyzes four landmark sea battles--Trafalgar, Jutland, MIdway and the Battle of the Atlantic--illuminating the history of naval conflict.

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Editorial Reviews

Christopher Lehmann-Haupt
All the same, ''The Price of Admiralty'' is an essentially humanistic book. It stands alongside Mr. Keegan's earlier works, in its power to impart both the big and little pictures of war. Within a few pages, it explains that the key to victory at Trafalgar was not ship-killing but man-killing, and that the French never heaved their dead overboard in time of action as the English did because ''a Catholic widow needed the evidence of burial of her husband's body if she was to remarry.'' Such details lend a human dimension to the most abstract of military calculations. -- New York Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The author of The Mask of Command here describes and analyzes four landmark naval engagements, each featuring a different type of ship. The engagements: the 1805 British victory over the French and Spanish fleets at Trafalgar; the WW I battle of Jutland; the decisive defeat by U.S. naval forces, mainly carrier planes, of a Japanese task force at Midway in 1942; and the prolonged struggle between Allied convoys and German U-boats in WW II known as the Battle of the Atlantic. Tracing the evolution from wooden sailing ships to ironclad steamships and then to aircraft carriers and submarines, Keegan includes a detailed description of life abroad the ships and provides the strategic background of each of the battles. He is especially keen on the shipwright's art, explaining among other things how the vessels were constructed to withstand bombardment. In this, his first book-length venture into naval history, Keegan writes as authoritatively as his admirers have come to expect. His chapter on Trafalgar is especially fine. Photos. 35,000 first printing; $35,000 ad/promo; History Book Club main selection; BOMC featured alternate; QPBC alternate. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Keegan ( The Face of Battle), a distinguished analyst of land warfare, moves in this work to the human dynamics of war at sea. He structures his work around four battles: Trafalgar, Jutland, Midway, and the Atlantic. Each was defined by a particular weapons system. Yet for all the importance of technology, ways of living were as important as methods of fighting. Keegan's aphoristically stimulating theses include the suggestion that ``man killing'' rather than ``ship killing'' decided Trafalgar. The behavior of Kaiser Wilhelm's navy in World War I is described as conditioned by an officer corps readier to die heroically than to keep the sea for months and years on end. Such insights show Keegan at his best: blazing trails for others to footnote. Recommended for most collections.-- Dennis E. Showalter, Colorado Coll., Colorado Springs
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780517080085
  • Publisher: Random House Value Publishing, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/24/1992

Meet the Author

Sir John Desmond Patrick Keegan (1934–2012), was one of the most distinguished contemporary military historians and was for many years the senior lecturer at Sandhurst (the British Royal Military Academy) and the defense editor of the Daily Telegraph (London). Keegan was the author of numerous books including The Face of Battle, The Mask of Command, The Price of Admiralty, Six Armies in Normandy, and The Second World War, and was a fellow at the Royal Society of Literature.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Battle at Sea xv
1 Trafalgar
The Wooden World 1
The Strategic Background 4
Nelson versus Napoleon 15
Nelson versus Villeneuve 28
Naval Warfare in the Age of Sail 41
Battle off Cape Trafalgar 54
What Had Happened? 89
The Aftermath 100
2 Jutland
The Fall of the Wooden Walls 109
High Seas Fleet versus Royal Navy 120
The War at Sea before Jutland 128
The Ironclad World 136
The Battle of Jutland 140
The Experience of Action 151
Battlecruisers versus battlecruisers 152
Battleships versus battleships 158
The smaller ships 168
The Aftermath 176
3 Midway
The Coming of the Aircraft Carrier 183
The Two Navies 190
The Pacific War before Midway 205
The Midway Campaign 214
The Battle of Midway 224
The battle over Midway island 229
The great carrier battle 232
The retreat from Midway 244
Counting the Cost 247
4 The Battle of the Atlantic: Convoys SC122 and HX229
The Emergence of the Submarine 251
Donitz and the U-boat Service 260
The Battle of the Atlantic 265
The Underwater War 275
Convoy 275
U-boats 277
Escorts 280
Anti-submarine weapons 281
Aircraft 284
Radio intelligence 286
Decryption 287
The Battle for Convoys HX229 and SC122 289
HX229 and SC122 289
The wolf-packs 290
The encounter 291
The massacre of HX229 295
The ordeal of SC122 303
The coming of the aircraft 307
The Balance of the Battle 310
Conclusion: An Empty Ocean 317
Glossary 329
Select Bibliography 337
Index 343
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