Book Review: The French Fleet: Ships, Strategy and Operations, 1870-1918


by Michele Cosentino and Ruggero Stanglini

Barnsley, Eng: Seaforth / Philadelphia: Casemate, 2022. Pp. x, 310. Illus., tables, appends., notes, biblio., index. $79.95. ISBN: 1526701316

The French Navy, from Ironclads to Dreadnoughts

As usual in works from Seaforth, The French Fleet is wonderfully produced. The photo-graphs, most of which I had never seen before, and layout are excellent.

The book addresses many things not often found in other works, such as range-finding equipment or the shoreside logistics of the French fleet.

The editing could have been a bit better, as a great deal is repeated in the photograph captions and the text. But most of the footnotes are helpful for one who does not know who admirals Baudin or Courbet were and some footnotes written by the editor correct or add to the text. Explanations in greater detail as to the loss of large pre-dreadnoughts would have helped. Several sank quite quickly from single torpedo hits - I had to look up the damage suffered and the quickness of their sinking, often from capsizing, elsewhere.

This is a nice complement in English to the several books on French battleships and armored cruisers by John Jordan & Philippe Caresse, and also to Theodore Ropp's The Development of a Modern Navy, Ray Walser's France's Search for a Battle Fleet, and Stephen S. Roberts' French Warships in the Age of Steam. The authors need to do a volume on the Italian navy!


Our Reviewer: Jack W. Greene is the author or co-author of numerous works in naval and military history, such as The Naval War in the Mediterranean, 1940-1943, Rommel's North Africa Campaign: September 1940-November 1942, and The Black Prince and The Sea Devils. He previously reviewed Field Marshal: The Life and Death of Erwin Rommel




Note: The French Fleet is also available in e-editions.


StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium

Reviewer: Jack W. Greene   

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