As celebrated author Antony Preston notes in his introduction, the question of warship design can easily sound like a boring backwater of naval history. This is especially true once it becomes clear that this book isn't like those "world's strangest airplanes" programs that sometimes show up on TV, with whimsical designs being "flown" off ramps to drop straight into the sea.
But this book is actually quite interesting, and filled with Important Lessons for people interested in learning them. The failures of these "world's worst warships" aren't due solely to the shortsightedness of naval architects or the incompetence of shipbuilders. Far more destructive, in fact, are wrongheaded admirals, penny-pinching politicians, pushy civilians with connections, and the recurrent danger of "fighting the last war." Though many of the ship designs listed here could be considered honest-but-failed experiments in new ideas, quite a few of them qualify as among the "world's worst" because of their designers' or champions' refusal to learn the lessons that should have already been apparent to them.
I can easily imagine this book touching off among naval officers and historians the kinds of impassioned debates that lists of All-Century football teams do among sports fans. Do famous names like "Bismarck," "Yamato," or the American "four-stacker" destroyers of the mid-War era really belong among the world's worst? Preston makes a strong -- well-sourced, well-argued, and even entertaining -- case that they do. What do you think?
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About the reviewer
Andrew S. Rogers (Cascadian)
Mostly, I'm a moderately prolific Amazon.com reviewer who's giving Lunch a try as another venue for my reviews.
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