cover image The Price of Admiralty

The Price of Admiralty

John Keegan. Viking Books, $21.95 (368pp) ISBN 978-0-670-81416-9

The author of The Mask of Command here describes and analyzes four landmark naval engagements, each featuring a different type of ship. The engagements: the 1805 British victory over the French and Spanish fleets at Trafalgar; the WW I battle of Jutland; the decisive defeat by U.S. naval forces, mainly carrier planes, of a Japanese task force at Midway in 1942; and the prolonged struggle between Allied convoys and German U-boats in WW II known as the Battle of the Atlantic. Tracing the evolution from wooden sailing ships to ironclad steamships and then to aircraft carriers and submarines, Keegan includes a detailed description of life abroad the ships and provides the strategic background of each of the battles. He is especially keen on the shipwright's art, explaining among other things how the vessels were constructed to withstand bombardment. In this, his first book-length venture into naval history, Keegan writes as authoritatively as his admirers have come to expect. His chapter on Trafalgar is especially fine. Photos. 35,000 first printing; $35,000 ad/promo; History Book Club main selection; BOMC featured alternate; QPBC alternate. (Mar.)