Castles of Steel: Britain, Germany, and the Winning of the Great War at Sea

By Robert K. Massie

In a piece of notable narrative strength, packed with terrific personalities and bright scenes of dramatic motion, Robert ok. Massie, the Pulitzer Prize–winning writer of Peter the good, Nicholas and Alexandra, and Dreadnought, elevates to its right ancient significance the function of sea energy within the successful of the nice War.

The most important photograph of this primary global battle is of dust and ditchs, barbed twine, laptop weapons, poison fuel, and slaughter. A iteration of eu manhood was once massacred, and a wound was once inflicted on eu civilization that required the rest of the 20 th century to heal.

But with all its sacrifice, trench conflict didn't win the struggle for one aspect or lose it for the opposite. Over the process 4 years, the traces at the Western entrance moved scarcely in any respect; makes an attempt to wreck via led basically to the lengthening of the already unbearably lengthy casualty lists.

For the real tale of army upheaval, we needs to glance to the ocean. at the eve of the battle in August 1914, nice Britain and Germany possessed the 2 maximum navies the realm had ever visible. while battle got here, those fleets of dreadnoughts—gigantic floating castles of metal capable of hurl large shells at an enemy miles away—were able to attempt their bad energy opposed to each one other.

Their struggles happened within the North Sea and the Pacific, on the Falkland Islands and the Dardanelles. They reached their climax while Germany, suffocated via an implacable naval blockade, made up our minds to strike opposed to the British ring of metal. the outcome was once Jutland, a great conflict of fifty-eight dreadnoughts, every one the house of one thousand men.

When the German excessive Seas Fleet retreated, the kaiser unleashed unrestricted U-boat battle, which, in its indiscriminate violence, introduced a reluctant the USA into the struggle. during this manner, the German attempt to “seize the trident” by means of defeating the British military resulted in the autumn of the German empire.

Ultimately, the distinguishing characteristic of Castles of metal is the writer himself. the information, figuring out, and literary strength Massie brings to this tale are exceptional. His portrayals of Winston Churchill, the British admirals Fisher, Jellicoe, and Beatty, and the Germans Scheer, Hipper, and Tirpitz are attractive of their veracity and artistry.

Castles of Steel is ready battle at sea, management and command, braveness, genius, and folly. some of these components are given awesome scope by way of Robert okay. Massie’s particular and commonly hailed literary mastery.

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This tranquil scene was once shattered by means of an explosion on Aboukir’s starboard aspect. To Admiral von Tirpitz, submarine assaults on warships at sea appeared an unpromising type of war, and to so much German naval officials, those vessels seemed too small and fragile even for coastal paintings. It was once, consequently, with a undeniable compassionate reluctance that the Naval employees ordered the fleet’s handful of early U-boats to eliminate their moorings and set out into the North Sea on August 6. between those craft was once U-9, one of many fourteen kerosene-burning submarines outfitted among 1910 and 1911. 100 and eighty-eight ft lengthy, displacing 493 lots, this undersea boat had a group of 4 officials and twenty-four males. torpedo tubes have been fastened within the bow and within the stern, and the submarine sailed with all tubes loaded. reserve torpedoes have been carried on rails in a ahead compartment from the place they can be slid into the bow tubes as soon as their predecessors have been fired. at the floor, burning kerosene, the boat may achieve 14 knots; underneath the skin, switching to electrical batteries, she may perhaps deal with eight. Cramped house and foul air had given the submarine carrier a name for unhealthfulness in addition to risk, and only in the near past had crews been authorised to sleep on board in port. In December 1912, as an scan, six U-boats with crews aboard had remained at the floor anchored to buoys for 6 days in Heligoland Bight; this was once thought of an brilliant persistence fulfillment. Diving was once regularly thought of dicy, and in tough climate, tactical process referred to as for assaults to be made with the conning tower above the outside. however, simply because kerosene cars smoked seriously, a U-boat at the floor sailed with a pillar of black smoke towering overhead. This made detection effortless for enemy destroyers: of the fourteen kerosene burners with which Germany started the warfare, twelve have been misplaced. The captain of U-9 was once Otto Weddigen, a moderate, blond, thirty-two-year-old Saxon, recognized for his courteous demeanour but in addition as a wrestler, a runner, and a swimmer. Weddigen disdained the typical notion that submarines have been scarcely greater than iron coffins. In January 1911, he survived an episode in the course of a regimen keep fit exercise during which U-3 sank to the ground of Kiel harbor simply because a person by accident had left open one of many ventilators. lower than thirty toes of water, the boat used to be filling with water and chlorine fuel created by way of the chemical response of salt water with the acid within the battery cells of the electrical cars. however, the staff controlled to shut the open ventilator after which use high-pressure air to expel water from the U-boat’s ahead buoyancy tanks, elevating the bow to the outside. One after one other, twenty-eight males escaped via a twenty-eight-foot-long, 17. 7-inch huge torpedo tube. Weddigen additionally was once well-known for jumping into the North Sea and rescuing a seaman who slipped off the slender deck of a surfaced U-boat. while the waves hurled him opposed to the metal hull of the boat, Weddigen’s arm used to be damaged.

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