Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921 is the second in a series of 4 volumes which, as the title suggests, lists all the worlds fighting ships built between 1860 and 1995. During the period covered by this book the world's first great arms race was still running a full speed whereby, as one country built a big battleship - so another would simply design one that was even bigger.
Conway Maritime Press are well known for their factual books on ships - especially warships, in which they provide the finest technical documentation. This item is a hard-back book with 440 pages of detailed and factual information. After a brief foreword and an explanation of abbreviations used, we find three main headings; The world's great powers, coast defence navies and minor navies. Under each of these headings all the relevant ships are then listed by country. Displayed by "class" of ship, each section then commences with the largest vessels operated by that country and progresses all the way down to the smallest craft with the oldest ships appearing first. For each class there is one or more line drawings which have become Conway's trademark. These are followed by all the usual technical details; Displacement, dimensions, machinery, armour, armament and complement followed by the names of each ship within that class - it's builder, date laid down, date completed and fate. Each of these is accompanied by a very "readable" text from which we learn of the political intrigue of the day, variations between vessels, refits, new equipment, whatever defects or other problems that beset either the class or a specific ship and a short résumé of the fate of each vessel.
The book is well illustrated with an excellent selection of historic black and white original photographs throughout with at least one picture on almost every page. In summary, this is an excellent technical work of reference and one which will continue to stand the test of time. Put another way, this is one of those books you will wish you had bought - after it becomes out of print.
on January 17, 2003
It's very much like the 1922-1946 book in terms of coverage, and that's fine. What I wanted was a general survey like that, something to fill in the gaps in my knowledge for this period, and I learned many things here. There's only so much you can fit in a book like this, so I can't rate it down for lack of detail, other books can fill that gap.