The Last Century of Sea Power
From Washington to Tokyo, 1922–1945
Publication Year: 2009
In this second volume of his history of naval power in the 20th century, H. P. Willmott follows the fortunes of the established seafaring nations of Europe along with two upstarts -- the United States and Japan. Emerging from World War I in command of the seas, Great Britain saw its supremacy weakened through neglect and in the face of more committed rivals. Britain's grand Coronation Review of 1937 marked the apotheosis of a sea power slipping into decline. Meanwhile, Britain's rivals and soon-to-be enemies were embarking on significant naval building programs that would soon change the nature of war at sea in ways that neither they nor their rivals anticipated. By the end of a new world war, the United States had taken command of two oceans, having placed its industrial might behind technologies that further defined the arena of naval power above and below the waves, where stealth and the ability to strike at great distance would soon rewrite the rules of war and of peace. This splendid volume further enhances Willmott's stature as the dean of naval historians.
Published by: Indiana University Press
List of Chapter Appendixes
List of Maps and a Diagram
List of Tables
Part 1. Naval Races and Wars
One: Introduction: Washington, London, and Two Very Separate Wars, 1921–1941
Arms races are not the cause of rivalries and wars but rather the reflection of conflicting ambition and intent, though inevitably they compound and add to these differences. The First World War was not the product of Anglo-German naval rivalry, though this was one of the major factors that determined Britain’s taking position in the ranks of Germany’s enemies, and most certainly it...
Two: Washington and London
Allies are not necessarily friends, and victory, or defeat, inevitably weakens the links that made for alliances and coalitions: the conflicting interests held in check by common need invariably reassert themselves, often with greater force than previously was the case. the First World War saw the passing of four empires, three of them multi-national empires, and the triumph of...
Three: Ethiopia and Spain
What is called the inter-war period actually had many wars and crises, the most obvious being the conflicts that were continuations of the First World War, namely the Russian Civil War, Intervention, the Soviet-Polish War (April 1920–March 1921), and the war that saw the emergence of a new, nationalist Turkey at the expense of Greek dreams of aggrandizement in Anatolia...
Four: Japan and Its “Special Undeclared War”
The period between the two world wars saw a series of conflicts, and the importance of naval power in some of these wars is seldom acknowledged. The Allied intervention in the Russian civil wars and involvement in the Greek-Turkish conflict were based on naval power, but, arguably, in the inter-war period in only one conflict did a navy play a major, indeed significant,...
Part 2. Introduction to the Second World War
Five: Navies, Sea Power, and Two or More Wars
Over the years the story of the war at sea during the Second World War with reference to Germany and Italy has been told mainly in terms of the defeat of the U-boat campaign against shipping. Certainly two, perhaps three, themes have been at the basis of British accounts of the defeat of the German campaign against Allied and neutral shipping. The first has been the British...
Part 3. The Second World War:The European Theater
Six: Britain and the Defeat of the U-boat Guerre de Course
States and their armed forces must fight wars as they must rather than as they would, but at a distance of some eight decades from events it is very difficult to discern what the inter-war British Navy intended, hoped, or anticipated would be the type of war it would be called upon to fight. What seems clear is that for most of the inter-war period the navy never expected to...
Seven: With Friends like These
Anglo-American historiography of the Second World War and the war at sea invariably traces the course and outcome of the two conflicts that together made up the Second World War in terms of the defeat of the German submarine offensive against shipping and the American advance across the southwest and central Pacific to the Japanese home islands. ...
Eight: Italy and the War in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations
The Mediterranean theater has figured large in British accounts of the Second World War, but what can be termed the British representation of this theater, its events and importance, invites ridicule, incredulity, and scorn. Such a statement is not likely to be well-received by British readers, but one fact may be cited to set in place the dubious...
Nine: The Lesser Allied Navies and Merchant Marines in the Second World War
Over the years British and American naval accounts of the Second World War have been very much ethnocentric and have paid very little attention the contribution of others, most notably that of the defeated Allied countries, navies, and merchant marines. While the importance of these countries, such as Poland, Denmark and Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium and France, ...
Part 4. The Second World War:The Pacific Theater
Ten: The War across the Pacific: Introduction and Conclusion
The war against Japan is all but synonymous with an American naval war, and that war with American carrier formations. But the real basis of Japan’s defeat was the superior demographic, industrial, and financial resources of the United States, which allowed that country to wage war across an ocean in a manner that defied imagination even in 1941. At the time of the Japanese...
Eleven: The Japanese Situation—and a Japanese Dimension
“The empire of the eight islands” in fact numbered some three thousand islands, totaling some 149,000 square miles, and extended over nearly thirty degrees of latitude. Alone of these just four islands, Kyushu, Shikoku, Honshu, and Hokkaido, formed the core of the Japanese heartland and possessed real political, demographic, and cultural significance. To the core area...
Twelve: The Japanese Situation—and an American Dimension
In 1940 certain individuals in the higher reaches of the Imperial Japanese Army, the Rikugun, reasoned that there was an overwhelming need to undertake a thorough study of the reality of total war. This was to be undertaken by an organization especially created in October 1940 for the task, the Soryokusen kenkyujo (Institute of Total War Studies). Thirty individuals, representing the...
Thirteen: The Japanese Situation—and a Second Japanese Dimension
Invariably the story of the Japanese, the Kaigun, and convoy has been told in terms of the creation of the General Escort Command in November 1943 and the subsequent course of events, which saw the devastation of Japanese shipping even before the start of the mining of home waters that was afforded a codename that really did symbolize intent. Yet this story has been afforded little real...
Fourteen: The Japanese Situation—and Another, and Final, Dimension
In the preceding chapters the Japanese situation in terms of shipping, trade, and production has been subjected to examination, for one reason: for more than six decades the American public perception of the Pacific war has been focused primarily upon fleet and amphibious operations; what has been provided here is not a correction to such perspective but an addition...
Part 5. Dealing with Real Enemies
Fifteen: Finis: The British Home Fleet, 15 August 1945
On 31 August 1939 the British Navy was by some margin the greatest navy in the world, and by virtue of a history and tradition that reached back hundreds of years. In terms of size it had ceded equality of status to the U.S. Navy at the Washington conference, but throughout the inter-war period it remained, in terms of standing, prestige, and reputation, the leading navy in...
Index of Warships, Submarines, Auxiliaries, and Merchantmen
Index of American Warships
Index of U.S. Lend-Lease Production of Escort Carriers,Frigates, and Sloops that Saw Service in the British Navy
Page Count: 704
Illustrations: 11 b&w illus., 16 maps
Publication Year: 2009
OCLC Number: 794698846
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