Book Review: Dreadnought: Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War

Dreadnought by Robert K. Massie

Dreadnoughts. Looking for information on the Battle of Jutland, or the design or evolution of the Dreadnought, or role of navel power in World War I? Look elsewhere. However, If you want to learn more of Queen Victoria’s offspring and the evolution of European relations up to the start of World War I, then this is the book for you. Two sections of photo inserts show all the major players in the upcoming war and a single picture of H.M.S. Dreadnought (the last picture in the second section of photographs).


Anything you want to know about crisis leading to the war are covered. Also covered is England’s Splendid Isolation and it’s fall, and why England had to align against Germany. The complex entangling alliances are also covered. Primarily the book is a history of England and Germany and it their leaders and officials. Also covered is the challenges (politically at home) of growing a navy. Massie backs up his book with almost one hundred pages of bibliography. To call this book through would be a gross understatement. It is probably the most detailed account I have read on the subject.


World War I is what many historians call the start of the 20th Century because of epic changes that the war brought about, politically and militarily. Dreadnoughts, takes you right up to the door step of that change. Dreadnoughts is well worth the read if you are interested in the period coming to the start of World War I. It is a long read, but explains much of a very complex time without over simplification.

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