Book Review-‘All the Factors of Victory: Admiral Joseph Mason Reeves and the origins of carrier airpower’ by T. Wildenburg

By Ben Jones, published October 2020


Admiral Joseph Mason Reeves was one of the most significant figures in the development of carrier aviation in the inter-war period and Thomas Wildenburg, an independent historian, has filled a considerable gap in the historiography with this biography. Wildenburg refers to Reeves as the ‘forgotten man of naval aviation’ (p. x) and a major reason for this is that, as the author admits, ‘He left few writings and no personal papers’ (p. x). A debt of gratitude is therefore owed to Adolphus Andrews Junior, the son of Reeves’s chief of staff, who interviewed Reeves for his PhD thesis entitled ‘Admiral with Wings’ and completed in 1943. The lack of any personal papers mean that this a very much an account of Reeves’s professional career with few references to his personal or family life and therefore following Reeves’s retirement in November 1936 as Wildenburg admits, ‘His activities during the next four years are unknown’ (p. 257). Wildenburg has made considerable use of official records and other memoirs to illustrate the significance of Reeves’s career…

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Filed under: Interwar | WW2
Subjects include: Biography | Naval Aviation

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