“The Dreadnought and the Edwardian Age” – Naval history can be so much more than ‘how big is my battleship’

There’s a really nice review by Duncan Redford in the May 2012 issue of The Mariner’s Mirror of The Dreadnought and the Edwardian Age.

Without a doubt this is an excellent book, but as with all multi-author books it also is the sum of the contributors’ efforts. It is fortunate, therefore, that Robert Blyth, Andrew Lambert and Jan Rüger were able to attract such talent to the conference and persuade them to contribute to the resulting book, as the range and scope of the contributions make this book much more than just the sum of its parts. Importantly, this book isn’t just about naval historians such as Paul Kennedy and Eric Grove talking to each other, there are important contributions from scholars who have used the Royal Navy to illustrate more general themes and ideas such as Cambridge’s Lucy Delap and Martin Daunton, the University of East Anglia’s T. G. Otte and Manchester’s Max Jones. Between them, the eleven contributors cover the symbolism and significance of the Dreadnought, the political and diplomatic contexts, the social and cultural contexts, as well as the technological and operational contexts. In short, it is a most comprehensive look at the Edwardian Royal Navy as seen through the changes, real and perceived, brought about by building and entry into service of the all big-gun battleship Dreadnought…

…This book is strongly recommended, not just to those interested in the Royal Navy of the Edwardian period and the approach of the First World War, but modern British historians more generally. If anyone doubted that naval history could be more than ‘how big is my battleship’ history then after reading The Dreadnought and the Edwardian Age they would have their answer: naval history can be so much more.   Duncan Redford, National Museum of the Royal Navy (from a review in The Mariner’s Mirror, 98.2 May 2012)

HMS Dreadnought (1906) is closely associated with the age of empire, the Anglo-German antagonism and the naval arms race before the First World War. Yet it was also linked with a range of other contexts – political and cultural, national and international – that were central to the Edwardian period.

In reassessing the most famous warship of the period, The Dreadnought and the Edwardian Age not only considers the strategic and operational impact of this ‘all big gun’ battleship, but also explores the many meanings Dreadnought had in politics and culture, including national and imperial sentiment, gender relations and concepts of masculinity, public spectacle and images of technology, and ideas about modernity and decline. The book brings together historians from different backgrounds, working on naval and technological history, politics and international relations, as well as culture and gender.

List of contributors: Andrew Lambert; Jan Rüger; Robert J. Blyth; Martin Daunton; T.G. Otte; Michael Epkenhans; Lucy Delap; Max Jones; Crosbie Smith; Eric Grove; John Brooks; Paul Kennedy.

The Dreadnought and the Edwardian Age is published by Ashgate in association with the National Maritime Museum. The book is edited by Robert J. Blyth, curator of imperial and maritime history at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich; Andrew Lambert, Laughton Professor of Naval History in the Department of War Studies at King’s College, London and Jan Rüger, Senior Lecturer in Modern European History at Birkbeck College, University of London.

Full information about The Dreadnought and the Edwardian Age is available on our website

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