The Price of Admiralty: The Evolution of Naval Warfare from Trafalgar to Midway

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 ...

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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: 9780140096507
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/28/1990
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 798,629
  • Product dimensions: 5.18 (w) x 7.84 (h) x 0.79 (d)

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
1. Trafalgar
The Wooden World
The Strategic Background
Nelson versus Napoleon
Nelson versus Villeneuve
Naval Warfare in the Age of Sail
Battle off Cape Trafalgar
What Had Happened?
The Aftermath

2. Jutland
The Fall of the Wooden Walls
High Seas Fleet versus Royal Navy
The War at Sea before Jutland
The Ironclad World
The Battle of Jutland
The Experience of Action: Battlecruisers versus battlecruisers; battleships versus battleships; the smaller ships
The Aftermath

3. Midway
The Coming of the Aircraft Carrier
The Two Navies
The Pacific War before Midway
The Midway Campaign
The Battle of Midway: The battle over Midway island; the great carrier battle; the retreat from Midway
Counting the Cost

4. The Battle of the Atlantic: Convoys SC122 and HX229
The Emergence of the Submarine
Dönitz and the U-boat Service
The Battle of the Atlantic
The Underwater War: Convoy; U-boats; escorts; anti-submarine weapons; aircraft; radio intelligence; decryption
The Battle for Convoys HX229 and SC122: HX229 and SC122; the wolf-packs; the encounter; the massacre of HX229; the ordeal of SC122; the coming of the aircraft
The Balance of the Battle

Conclusion: An Empty Ocean

Glossary
Select Bibliography
Index

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2001

    A book for those who know nothing

    Keegan's book ¿Price of Admiralty¿ is a vain attempt to transcend from the land into the ocean. He has chosen four pinnacles of naval warfare to showcase how technology has advanced, thus changing the nature of naval warfare. What he has not done is find new ways to interpret the information, nor did he seek to affix a thesis to unify the work. The conclusion is nothing more than an ill-fated warning of the 'supreme' submarine. Over all it is popular history at its best, a good study for someone who wishes an introduction, but one of little use to the scholar.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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