Book Review: Clad in Iron: The American Civil War and the Challenge of British Naval Power


by Howard J. Fuller

Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2008. Pp. xxix, 409. Illus., notes, biblio., index. $23.95 paper. ISBN:1591142970

As noted in the foreword to Clad in Iron, books on the introduction of the steam powered ironclad warship invariably fall into one of two categories, technical treatments of the ships or battle pieces.  In this work, however, Fuller, of the University of Wolverhampton, who has written several earlier works on the Civil War and Anglo-American relations in the nineteenth century, does something different. 

To be sure, Fuller provides enough technical detail and fighting to satisfy most readers, as he examines the first year or so of the naval war within the framework of the introduction of the ironclad.  But, after filling the reader in origins, early development and consequences of the new type of warship, notably the Anglo-French "ironclad race," Fuller goes on to look at how these affected political, diplomatic, military, and strategic relations between the U.S. and Britain.  This is set within the framework of the threat of war that arose partially due to fears of foreign intervention in the nation's domestic conflict and partially due to the "Trent Affair." 

As a result, the book, which also takes a look at the broader strategic issues related to the introduction of the ironclad, will be of interest to students of diplomatic history as well as of naval affairs.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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