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Dreadnoughts and Super-Dreadnoughts

Dreadnoughts and Super-Dreadnoughts Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review December 2021 Title Dreadnoughts and Super-Dreadnoughts
Author Chris McNab Publisher Casemate
Published 2021 ISBN 9781636240862
Format 224 pages, hardbound MSRP (USD) $39.95

Review

HMS Dreadnought’s 1906 launch spawned, as author Chris McNab observes, “an international naval arms race, a sprint by nations attempting to achieve if not dominance or parity, then at least influence, on the high seas.”

Now he recaps the multidimensional phenomenon in Dreadnoughts & Super-Dreadnoughts – available in North America from Casemate, and part of the publisher’s “Casemate Illustrated” range.

McNab calls the warships “truly … self-contained communities of endeavor”. And principally drawing from Royal Navy experience, he recaps nearly every facet of Dreadnought and Super-Dreadnought design, operations, organization, and influence in his illuminating little primer.

Armament. Armor. Fuel. Propulsion. Electricity. Accommodations. Communications. Construction. Modifications. Politics. And much more.

McNab argues, in particular, that crew specialties “provided the fabric for power projection”.

Fascinating minutiae liberally spice this ripping read. Did you know that, “Even into World War II we find the role of sailmaker appearing in some ship’s complement lists”?

Sidebars augment the account. Extended, explanatory captions accompany illustrations. And concluding chapters recap international use and combat.

It’s annotated, too – nicely facilitating further study. But don’t expect footnotes in formal academic style. McNab acknowledges sources as nested notes within text. And with many popular histories completely failing to acknowledge source material, that’s still refreshing.

I thoroughly enjoyed this handsome little hardback. It’s a great introduction.

But USS Maine (BB-10) was a pre-dreadnought design. And a glossary of common terms would help nautically challenged readers like me!

Finally, when discussing destruction of dreadnoughts by much smaller vessels like submarines, why ignore the landmark sinking of Austria-Hungary’s SMS Szent István by Italian motor torpedo boats in June 1918?

Recommended!

With thanks to Casemate Publishing for the review copy!