Review – ‘Britain and the Mine, 1900–1915: Culture, strategy and international law’ by Matthew S. Seligmann
Underwater weapons – specifically, mines and torpedoes – have had a profound influence on twentieth-century naval warfare. Despite this, studies of them to date have not been all they might be. Richard Dunley seeks to rectify this in respect of the mine with a major evaluation of its place in Royal Navy thinking and planning in the first decade and a half of the twentieth century. To achieve this, the book intersects with and contributes to three current debates, the subjects of which are heralded by the book’s subtitle.
Britain and the Mine is based upon an impressive body of research, including some papers in archives rarely used by naval historians, for example the East Riding Record Centre. Hiding his light under a bushel, Dunley neglects to include this depository in the list of archival sources, but it is there in the endnotes. In ranging across three important debates, Dunley shows that good naval history has a wide reach and intersects with broad issues. Accordingly, this must be seen as an important book and a major contribution to the literature. I do have one quibble: although full citations are provided in the endnotes, there is no bibliography.