Book Review – ‘War at Sea: A naval atlas 1939–1945’ by Marcus Faulkner

By Derek Law, published October 2020


This is a profoundly disappointing book. Its arrival had been keenly anticipated as it has been widely advertised and promised a novel and valuable approach to naval warfare through cartography; it promised – and delivers – comprehensiveness; it has already been nominated for a book prize; it promised help in understanding complicated battles and campaigns and a pithy synthesis of the war at sea; it sounded like a necessary and welcome tool to assist in understanding the war at sea for any serious scholar. The contents page promises a satisfactorily rich and varied set of over 200 maps. Some are familiar but many unknown or little known actions are covered from the Baltic and Black Sea to the Pacific. This is very welcome. At first glance the maps are uniformly clear whether global in nature or covering only a few square sea miles, while the author’s preface helpfully covers some of the conventions of time and place in the construction of the maps as well as notes on sources. The arrangement is chronological and each year of the war has a useful initial summary list of the maps to follow and the location of sea battles. Each map also has a useful brief and universally well laid-out textual summary of the background to the action and its outcome. Some initial discomfort over errors on the contents page is then dispelled by an excellent preamble from Andrew Lambert….

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Filed under: WW2 | Twentieth Century
Subjects include: Battles & Tactics | Navies

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