This is the prequel to Massie's Castles of Steel (my review). In this facinating tale Massie tells the story of the naval arms race between Great Britain and Germany in the decades leading up to the first world war. As he would do in Castles of Steel, Massie concentrates on the personalities of the government and military leaders, who often used the naval race for their own purposes to further their careers or to assuage their paranoia. He stays away from technical descriptions and evaluations, instead concentrating on the storytelling. He relates how leaders of both nations alternated between a fear of out of control budgets and eventual war and the fear that should they appear weak or vacillating to their peers, leaders and subordinates. There are many lessons for the current generation in this tale.
I would strongly recommend this not only to those with an interest in naval history, but also to those who enjoy a good non-fiction tale of intrigue, power and conflict.
Link to LibraryThing entry for this book
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