Book Review – ‘Strategy and War Planning in the British Navy, 1887–1918’ by Shawn T. Grimes

By Jerker Widen, published October 2020


The decades preceding the First World War may be considered a golden age of naval strategic thinking. During this time, the American Alfred Thayer Mahan produced his widely acclaimed The Influence of Sea Power upon History 1660–1783 (1890), which brought sea power to the centre stage in political circles all around the Western world. In Britain, the dominating naval power at the time, Philip H. Colomb published his Naval Warfare: Its ruling principles and practice historically treated (1891), a book that paralleled many of Mahan’s findings. The greatest naval book of all times, however, was Julian S. Corbett’s Some Principles of Maritime Strategy (1911), a work intended as a textbook to be used in officer education at the Royal Navy War College. Meanwhile, charismatic figures such as Winston Churchill and John Fisher had a major impact on British naval policy. Even though all three books mentioned drew their arguments mainly from the lessons of naval history, it is certainly of interest to know more about the historical period in which they were conceived, developed and finally formalized in print. This applies especially to British naval developments. To what extent did the times shape these the actors and their ideas?…

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Filed under: WW1 | Nineteenth Century | Twentieth Century
Subjects include: Administration | Navies | Strategy & Diplomacy

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