Book Review-‘Seapower States: Maritime culture, continentalempires and the conflict that made the modernworld’ by A. Lambert

By Eric Grove, published December 2020


This is Andrew Lambert’s most ambitious book. In it he sets out an interesting and original thesis that ‘seapower states’ have been the result of the ambitions of an oligarchic elite, based on maritime commerce and the revenues obtained therefrom. In such powers commercial classes are given significant power and naval power is given priority over military and these classes enact laws to improve the maritime resource base. Sea powers fight for core trade routes and protect merchant shipping; they trade with overseas nations but use economic measures to destroy rivals. They have a limited number of overseas bases defended from the landward side. They adopt limited war strategies based on blockade, waging war on land using proxy allies. They can only operate in a context where there is a balance of several land powers because seapowers are defeated by being drawn ‘into large scale existential land wars’. Sea powers ‘are ultimately unable to resist truly hegemonic continental powers’…

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Filed under: Popular Topics
Subjects include: Administration | Navies | Strategy & Diplomacy

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