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on October 5, 2001
This is a reference book more so than one you read through to gain an understanding of Jutland. Other reviewers have remarked that it is "dry", and the meaning of this word in this context merits explanation.
Campbell's work is about shells impacting ships or water, and their explosive damage in each case where a ship was hit. It is almost entirely devoid of discussion (or even mention!) of who was where, making which decisions based on what information. It is all "what" and little "why".
In other words, very much a reference work on a very narrow (but novel) forensic aspect of this pivotal naval battle. Indeed, you could read this book and come away with the impression that Jutland was about ghost ships steaming about with no one at the helm.
Every recent book on Jutland cites this as a source, and its accuracy and professionalism in cataloging the "'oo killed 'oo" aspects of the battle, but this book is not unchallenged in all that it contains. Andrew Gordon singles Campbell out tellingly on a point of whether the 5th Battle Squadron was taking fire during its belated turn to the North. Given that the handling of this squadron was amongst the most debated elements of the battle, and Campbell's intent was to track every single shellhole, it seems clear from several seemingly indisputable primary accounts cited in Gordon's book that the ships were receiving heavy fire this entire time -- in fact, at least half of the German ships firing were concentrating on them.
This book is a valuable addition to a scholar's library, but is in every case best when combined with other books, given its finely focused topic area. I would offer that Gordon's "The Rules of the Game" is a good companion to this volume in that it focuses on what distinguished Jutland as a battle worthy of study: the men crewing these vessels, the information available to them and what actions they took when so equipped, and the lamentable posturing and blame-laying that took place in the aftermath.
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