Book Review: War at Sea: A Naval Atlas, 1939-1945


by Marcus Faulkner

Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2012. Pp. xii, 276. Maps, tables., biblio., index. $89.95. ISBN: 1591145600

An excellent graphic treatment of naval operations during the Second World War. 

Originally published by Pen & Sword in Britain, War At Sea devotes a "chapter" to naval operations during each year of the war. Each chapter opens with an overview of the year?s events, and then more detailed maps follow covering events through the year in chronological order, shifting from theatre to theatre as appropriate.  The opening chapter has a survey of the British Commonwealth, French, German, and Italian navies, and profiles of those of the U.S.S.R., Japan, and the U.S.A. are introduced as they enter the war.  The numerous color maps are well drawn and clear, and are supplemented by a short narrative, which helps clarify often complex operations.  In addition to maps covering operations and battles, several of the plates are devoted to matters such as strategic organization, communications networks, and so forth. 

The book does display a certain bias toward the British, and to a lesser extent the American side of the war.  Tables accompanying the maps often have more detail on British or American forces than on the opposing side.  In addition, a number of important operations are missing, such as Japanese operations against China, the Tunisian convoy battles of 1942-1943, or operations in the Black Sea, and coverage of smaller actions is erratic, with such interesting battles as Cape Spada or Ko Chang missing.  In addition, while there is a good over-view of the proposed German invasion of Britain, there is none of the proposed Allied invasion of Japan. 

Despite these drawbacks, War at Sea is of great value to anyone interested in the naval side of the 1939-1945 war, andcan be ?read? by itself or used in conjunction with a more traditional narrative account.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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