|Author||C. Stern - Robert|
|File size||16.3 MB|
I found this book to be a generally well-written account of naval battles during World War II fought with gunfire. It is attractively published with wide margins that invite annotations and includes a comprehensive collection of maps, drawings, and photographs. The maps are particularly helpful since the author’s very thorough descriptions of some of the battles are occasionally difficult to follow on their own. I also note that there are portions of the book that rely so heavily upon jargon that they may be challenging for a general reader while at other points the use of slang and hyperbole may be irritating to a specialist.
That said, Mr. Stern does a nice job of covering the material he decided to include. For instance, he provides a good account of the roughly eighteen-month period between the destruction of the Graf Spee and the sinking of the Bismarck that may be less well known to American readers. What I found to be frustrating was his application of the criteria that he set forth in his introduction for a battle meriting a place in his book.
The title Big Gun Battles suggested to me that this would be a book about battles fought with big guns, or alternatively big battles fought with guns. Although the second interpretation comes closer to what Mr. Stern explains as his purpose, his application of it is highly random. He describes the battles between the British and the Italians in the Mediterranean quite well, but he says nothing of the Battle of Cape Matapan, which unquestionably included a big battle fought with big guns. He does, however, cover the Royal Navy’s use of aircraft to sink and damage Italian ships at Taranto without any gunfire. Likewise, his description of commerce raiding by the Germans during early stages of the war does involve big guns, but hardly battles, or the “warship duels” mentioned in the subtitle. Turning to the Pacific, he relates a number of cruiser and even destroyer actions but omits the confrontation between capital ships that resulted in the destruction of the Kirishima by the battleship Washington.
I liked what Mr. Stern had to say, but I wish he had been more inclusive and said more.