At War At Sea

Book Review



At War At Sea: Sailors and Naval Combat in the Twentieth Century


Ronald H. Spector


Viking, Penguin Putnam,  New York, NY



Reviewed By:

Frank Fogg

Review Date:

December, 2001


At War At Sea is an examination of modern naval combat.  It covers the most decisive naval engagements of the 20th century from Tsushima  in 1905 through the collapse of the Soviet Union. This is a hardcover edition of about 464 pages.

Get more information about At War At Sea at Amazon.comAt War At Sea does not try to examine all of the factors that impacted naval engagements  during the 20th century. Spector focuses on the most important battles and examines  the men and ships that played a part. Most of the book is dedicated to examining the Tsushima, Jutland, Battle of the Atlantic, Midway, Korea and Vietnam conflicts. Within this structure, the discussion of each battle is expanded by looking  at the training and organization of manpower, the impact of obtaining and retaining  qualified sailors, evolution in ship design, and the development of naval strategy  and tactics for both sides.

The presentation of conflicts early in the century dwells  mostly on the statistics of the forces, such as how many sailors, how many ships,  and how much logistical support. For World War II and afterwards, more anecdotal  evidence such as eyewitness accounts is given to support the author's conclusions.  Although the author paints a complete picture of the admirals and captains that commanded the fleets, an even more interesting detail in this book are the excerpts from letters written by average deck sailors. This type of information is included throughout the story, giving a closely personal perspective. In a short ending  chapter, the author draws conclusions about past, present and future conflicts  and the role of naval combatants.

This work is an exhaustively researched and well-written examination of the development and impact of naval warfare in the 20th century.  It includes selected photographs over this time span and supplies both strategic  and personal views of each conflict.

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