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Dreadnought Paperback – Sep 15 1992

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1040 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (Sept. 15 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345375564
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345375568
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 4.5 x 23.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #10,215 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Massie's sweeping narrative centers around the naval rivalry between Britain and Germany after the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, highlighting this as one of the major tensions that led to WW I. Photos.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This is a case study in the limits of a particular style of history. Massie's previous biographically focused narrative histories, Peter the Great ( LJ 9/15/80) and Nicholas and Alexandra ( LJ 7/67), succeeded intellectually because of the nature of autocratic decision making. The British and German systems were too complicated and too democratic to respond to a biographical focus. This massive volume, while reminding us of the importance of individuals in decision making, nevertheless ultimately misrepresents the Anglo-German rivalry as essentially a conflict of personalities. The naval race, purportedly the book's focus, is submerged in a sea of anecdotes about ministers and monarchs. Many are interesting; few are original. Moreover, neither Massie's text nor his bibliography shows significant traces of the immense body of German-language scholarship on this complex subject. Long and intricate for the general reader, this is incomplete for the serious student. Paul Kennedy's equally massive The Rise of the Anglo-German Antagonism (Allen & Unwin, 1980) is no less well written and provides a much more comprehensive account. BOMC main selection.
- D.E. Showalter, U.S. Air Force Acad., Colorado Springs
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ned Middleton TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 2 2007
Format: Paperback
It was the First World War - known at that time as "The Great War" which changed Britain and Europe forever. As the Generals on both sides sent millions and millions of men to their deaths in the carnage which they regarded as warfare, there came about a change in the psyche of the British male - a change which would herald a complete alteration in the way he thought and acted towards those of the upper, ruling classes. No longer would that British male be so quick to use such words as "M'Lord" or even "Sir." No longer would he doff his cap as a mark of respect, no longer would the ordinary police Constable be so quick to "arrest that man" just because a well dressed person had ordered him so to do.

That change in British Society continues to this day and is easily traced back to the feelings of loss and despair which came with the realisation that far too many young men had died "at the front" - even though the war itself had been won and mainland Britain had escaped unscathed.

In this epic tale, author Robert Massie delves deep into why that war occurred in the first place. Every single aspect of argument and behaviour on both sides (both military and political) is exposed and analysed. As the title of the book would suggest, the theme is the world's first great arms race. When Britain produced the first Dreadnought Battleship it rendered all other battleships obsolete at a stroke (including the remainder of the British Fleet!). From that moment onwards it was always a question of who could produce the most new Dreadnoughts in the quickest possible time. Set against this wish by both Britain and Germany to be seen as the world's supreme masters of the seas was a political intrigue which few have been able to commit to print in such a masterly fashion as is found in this book.

In short, this is one of the greatest books of our time. It is also a damn fine read.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kyle Maxwell on Oct. 9 2002
Format: Paperback
Dreadnought: Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War examines the first arms race of the twentieth century, that of the modern battleship. Robert Massie lays out the development of the Dreadnought-class battleship and its implications, beginning with Queen Victoria's ascension to the throne and ending with the declaration of World War I. The focus is on the monarchies and constitutional governments, and the book closes with the sequence of declarations of general European war in the summer of 1914.
Interestingly, the book does so from a biographical perspective. Virtually every word is focused on giving the reader a clear picture of the personalities involved, from the Queen herself to Kaiser Wilhelm (referred to unfailingly as William in the book), from Cecil Rhodes to Prince Bismarck. This makes the book somewhat more readable, but leaves the reader with the impression that the arms race (and thus the War) is entirely due to individual personalities. Very little time or attention is given to broader social developments, reducing the citizenry of each nation to little more than observers, often even less given the secrecy behind many of the developments.
Kaiser Wilhelm is especially closely considered, making it clear that, at least in part, his own inferiority complex and vacillation between Anglophilia and Anglophobia led to Germany's near-inexorable march towards war. At times, he desired nothing more than the acceptance and respect of his grandmother and uncle (Victoria and Edward VII); at others, he would repudiate any possible tempering influence they might have had. After Bismarck, one chancellor after another rotated through the government, serving at the Emperor's pleasure (due to Bismarck's design in the constitution).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Seth J. Frantzman on Feb. 20 2003
Format: Paperback
This book details many aspects of pre 1914 Europe that have previously gone unnoticed and unresearched. The focus is the governments of England and Germany and specifically the naval arms race between the two. The name, Dreadnought, refers to the new class of battleships that evoke the modern warship, abandoning the iron clad models and ships of sail. These new floating gun platforms were designed by both England and Germany and by 1914 the Germans(a landed power) were within striking distance of defeating the English navy.
The book looks at such famous characters as Winston Chruchil, Kaiser II, and Bismark. The author details the rise of Germany, its unification and wars against its neighboors and its quest for world supremacy through colonies and military power.
The insights into naval technology, and prewar politics is interesting. The focus on England and Germany as the main rivals and also the important focus on Bismark as leader of the German states is of great interest to someone who knows little about the extraordinary birth of modern germany.
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Format: Paperback
Folks who would like history to be an impersonal sweep of Great Movements and Significant Trends will doubtless dislike Massie's treatise on the Anglo-German naval arms race and the coming of the Great War. In contrast, for those of us who believe that history has a face (and often a street address) this is a fascinating and highly informative discussion of a critical period in world history. Massie stresses the very personal nature of power politics in pre-war Europe -something that I suspect modern readers (and reviewers)born into an age of "focus groups" and party politics may tend to discount. Before 1918 much of the power in Europe (and by extension the rest of the world) was wielded by a handful of individuals, many of whom were closely related. Victoria's children and grandchildren were alas NOT one big happy family, and Massie shows us how suspected slights and jealousies propelled whole governments towards foolish decisions. The creation of the German High Seas Fleet was largely the product of the Kaiser's feeling that he was being snubbed by his Uncle (Edward VII). Any pretence that this fleet was NOT aimed at contesting Britain in the North Sea is disproved by the decision to emphasize armor and internl compartmentalization within the German capital ships at the cost of cramped quarters and limited fuel storage that made the ships unlivable (and un-navigable) for more than a few days. As Massie shows, Wilhelm's decision to build a massive short-range fleet was opposed by many of his own ministers and ultimately ensured that Britain and Germany would come to blows. It would have been interesting if Massie had chosen to give us more of a "postscript" -what actually happened to this enormous expenditure of capital and energy- rather than ending things with the outbreak of war, but for that one need only look at the many books analyzing the battle of Jutland etc.
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