Book Review – ‘French Battleships of World War One’ by Andrew Lambert

By Andrew Lambert, published December 2020


This book is the prequel to John Jordan’s French Battleships 1922–1956 of 2009, written with Robert Dumas. Anyone who has read that superb book will know what to expect. This time Philippe Caresse shares the writing credits. The opening section examines French naval policy and capital ship procurement after the fall of the Second Empire in 1870, highlighting an age of uncertainty in which the overriding need to expand the army, rapid technological progress, tactical uncertainty, the search for strategic alternatives and the strikingly slow pace of construction combined to hamper progress.

The second section of the book moves from design, construction and projected vessels to the operational history of French battleships. The wartime chapters add important detail to the Dardanelles operation, Mers-el-Kebir, and the grand scuttling at Toulon in 1943.

This large format book will be essential reading for historians of naval policy, design, technology, and operations. The publisher has ensured it will be read with pleasure, produced in the Seaforth house style. The book does justice to the tremendous effort that the French navy put into creating a unique style, so that the battlefleet could express French exceptionalism, professional pride and national ambition …

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Filed under: Atlantic | WW1 | English Channel | Interwar | WW2 | Mediterranean | Nineteenth Century | Twentieth Century
Subjects include: Navies | Shipbuilding & Design

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