Book Review-’21st Century Knox: Influence, sea power, and history for the modern era’ by D. Kohnen
The latest in an agreeable series by the US Naval Institute Press which aims to emphasize the modern salience of the luminaries of the US Navy and Marine Corps at the start of the twentieth century, 21st Century Knox does exactly ‘what it says on the tin’. Its editor is a historian in his own right, properly committed to the idea that naval history has something to offer in a troubled present and uncertain future.
The early years of the twentieth century was a period of real technological innovation in naval technology, and the world’s sailors struggled to come to terms with what it all portended. In the US they were aided by the questioning approach of a generation of younger officers in the maritime services, of which Dudley Knox was a key player, alongside others like Alfred Mahan, Ernest J. King, Captain ‘Pete’ Ellis and William Sims, most of whom are celebrated in this series. Knox was, however, practitioner as well as thinker, with experience of command chiefly in destroyers and torpedo boats before the First World War and in policy during and after it. He helped set up Op-16E, the historical section of the Operations Navy (OpNav) in the Department of the Navy. He retired in October 1921, but stayed on as a reserve officer and Director of Navy Records and the Library of the Navy Department. In this capacity, he acted as a background advisor to the navy leadership up to and through the Second World War…