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Review: Churchill & Sea Power

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  • Review: Churchill & Sea Power

    Churchill & Sea Power by Professor Christopher Bell.
    Published by Oxford University Press 2012. ISBN:9780199693573


    Life is complicated and being at the centre of world changing events such as wars, makes that complication even harder to navigate and navigate in a manner suitable to all. Churchillís life was complicated from day one and it never really got any easier, as he moved up and down the greasy pole of military and later political life. I say that not to encourage sympathy but as a note of realism of what weíve all experienced in whatever career path we have chosen or had thrust upon us. Churchillís ability, skill and nuance at self promotion are well known to all, especially after the end of WW2. When youíre atop of the pedestal there is only one way to go and sadly over the decades there has been a near desperate desire not only to topple the Churchill pedestal but smash it asunder from some quarters.

    Professor Christopher Bellís work concentrates on tempering somewhat both the romantic and desultory spheres of influence that Churchill conjures up, by specifically looking at his role in the naval environment, from WW1-WW2. Churchill is above all associated with the Royal Navy and UKís maritime struggle(s), yet this aspect is often seemingly set in stone by many past publications, whose main reference seems to be the work undertaken by Roskill when formulating the Official History after the war. Churchill whilst being a firm advocate of naval power wasnít a one-trick acolyte pony either. His evolution of thought concerning naval power and its use are often overlooked in the rush to prove or disprove an authorís agenda. Bellís work is more subtle, yet very penetrating into both Churchillís faults and graces concerning the Royal Navy and the wider maritime strategy. This book rounds off those sharp edges of fault and blame where required, by detailing out the rather complex relationship Churchill and his advisors & colleagues had with each other.

    The book itself is set out in 11 chapters that chart Churchillís development within the naval sphere, starting with one of his first speeches to Parliament in 1901 where he proclaimed ďThe honour and security of the British Empire do not depend, and can never depend, on the British ArmyÖ.The Admiralty is the only Office strong enough to insure the British EmpireĒ This much to everyoneís surprise coming from a former Army Officer! We see through the second to fifth chapters which detail out the experiences of the First World War and the economic developments of the inter-war & 10yr rule how Churchillís vision and understanding changed markedly as events unfolded. The remaining chapters cover those areas in WW2 that remain contentious to this day: The Norwegian Campaign, Japan & Force Z, the Battle of the Atlantic & the Air Gap and the final Defeat of the Axis Powers. The context of these specifics is well balanced and I could perceive no bias either way in how they were discussed or placed. The book is very well Notated as one would expect from such an author and publisher, which allows the reader to undertake further research and development of the arguments discussed. The book has a minimal photographic content but that isnít to the detriment of the book at all.

    This book can be read and enjoyed as a stand alone publication for such is the professional way in which Bell approaches the subject matter. Those in the pro/anti Churchill camps will no doubt be reaching for other tomes to cross reference Bells interpretation of events, and think and act accordingly.

    For anyone interested in Churchill, the Royal Navy or Britainís course of action primarily in WW2, then this book is worthy of purchase.

    5 out of 5 stars

    Regards
    Attached Files
    "You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." Churchill

    "I'm no reactionary.Christ on the Mountain! I'm as idealistic as Hell" Eisenhower

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