cover image Great Naval Battles of the Twentieth Century

Great Naval Battles of the Twentieth Century

Jean-Yves Delitte and Giuseppe Baiguera, trans. from the French by Joe Johnson. Dead Reckoning, $24.95 (176p) ISBN 978-168247-524-9

Delitte and Baiguera, with the support of the the French National Navy Museum, deliver a dramatic history of significant 20th-century naval battles that impresses with its research but less so with its narrative. Delving into three battles—Tsushima (1905), Jutland (1916), and Midway (1942)—Delitte and Baiguera honor both the officers and rank-and-file combatants who fought and died at each. At Tsushima, Japan’s defeat of Russia is set against the growing anti-imperialist tensions in the Motherland. The second battle shows the brutal but inconclusive nature of Jutland, with England and Germany both claiming victory, while Midway explores the comprehensive defeat of the Japanese that shaped WWII’s Pacific theater. Delitte and Baiguera take turns drawing sections, and Baiguera’s clean line wonderfully complements Delitte’s looser strokes. Dialogue presents some issues, however. The translation can sometimes feel stilted, with characters voicing expository details unnaturally, while the use of racial epithets for Japanese combatants, if historically accurate, is frequent enough to seem uncomfortably gratuitous. In this ambitious undertaking, the writing just doesn’t live up to the art. (Oct.)