Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Victory at Sea - Winner, Non-Fiction, 1921

The Victory at Sea
By: Admiral William Sowden Sims
Doubleday, 1920

Being rather averse to the history of war, I must admit that I quite dreaded reading a book solely about submarine warfare in World War I written by an admiral. I expected a long military diatribe full of technical terms that I didn't know and didn't care to know. But, with The Victory at Sea I was pleasantly surprised. Admiral Sims was assisted in his writing by Burton J. Hendrick for the specific purpose of keeping the language in layman's terms.

It was fascinating to read about a part of World War I that I don't remember learning too much about in my history classes. Sims writes that in the latter part of 1917 Germany was coming very close to defeating the Allies because they were making such effective use of the submarine to block British supply lines on the seas. Because Great Britain is an island it depends very heavily on imports for survival. When Admiral Sims was sent to England in 1917 to head up the American naval program in the war he brought multiple ideas for battling the German submarines to open British supply lines and, consequently, promote the Allied cause on the Western Front. These ideas, when implemented, proved very effective in destroying and deterring the German subs. In the end, shortly after the German submarines were stopped almost completely the Armistice was signed.

The most interesting thing to me about reading this book was the fact that is was written right after the Armistice was signed, before World War II. World War I was still "The War to End All Wars." It is often referred to in the book as THE World War. Sims had no idea what was in store in the coming years as terms of the Armistice brought Germany so low that they desperately searched for someone to bring them back up - and that someone was Adolf Hitler.

Of course, the claims in the book must be taken with a grain of salt because they were made almost immediately after the war was over. But, I do still think it is worth the read.

1 comment:

Grete said...

I am so impressed that you are plugging through all these books - especially ones like this topic. You are going to be so historically informed (as if you weren't before!) after you finish!