Book Review: At the Crossroads Between Peace and War: The London Naval Conference of 1930


by John Maurer and Christopher M. Bell, editors

Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2014. Pp. xii, 270. Illus., notes, biblio, index. $59.95. ISBN: 1612513263

Shaping Naval Arms Limitation in an Era of Apparent Peace

The 1930 London conference on the limitation of naval armaments tends to be overlooked by most historians, yet help shape the development of the world’s principal navies for most of the decade that ended with the outbreak of World War II.  At the Crossroads between Peace and War helps set the conference within the framework of the times, explore its workings, and evaluate its consequences. The book has s even essays by the editors and five other naval historians. 

These are:

  • “A Turning Point in Anglo-American Relations?” by John Kuehn .
  • “Britain and the London Naval Conference” by Christopher M. Bell ,
  • “The London Conference and the Tragedy of the Imperial Japanese Navy” by Sadao Asada
  • “The French and Italian Navies” by Paul Halpern
  • “Information Superiority: British I intelligence at London” by John R. Ferris)
  • “Naval Strategy and Force Structure” by Norman Friedman
  • “The London Conference: A Strategic Reassessment” by John H. Maurer

Though there are some discontinuities among the essays, where the author has stressed a particular facet of the negotiations or agreements not addressed by the other authors, a all of the essays are excellent, carefully documented, well written and readable, which is good given the often intricate calculus of arms control. Several them hold little surprises, as various proposals went back and forth, with the result that at times seemingly friendly powers end ed up on opposing sides of an argument, while seemingly hostile ones turn out to be in agreement. 

Although an essential read for the specialist in naval history in the twentieth century, this book will also be of value to students of disarmament, and even for the “naval buff.”

Reviewer: A.A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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