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    Jutland...was to be both the biggest and the last purely surface encounter of main fleets in naval history.
        -John Keegan, The First World War

Though this is the first in a series of books that Alexander Fullerton has been writing for a quarter-century, I believe it is the first time one of them has been published in the U.S.  It's easy to imagine why they're coming out now, what with the phenomenal success of Patrick O'Brian's books in recent years, the widely acclaimed series of Horatio Hornblower adaptations that have been airing on A&E, and the revival of interest in WWI, resulting from the publication of the two excellent studies by John Keegan (The First World War) and Niall Ferguson (Pity of War).  Fullerton's series relates the adventures of a British naval family, the Everards, during WWI :   Nicholas, a sub-lieutenant on a destroyer, who earned a reputation for insubordination as a midshipmen; his brother David, the favored elder son; and their uncle, Hugh, who commands a battleship.  In this first installment, all three end up at the Battle of Jutland, which is entirely plausible because of the number of ships that were involved.

It is, of course, unfair to measure Fullerton against the impossibly high standard set by O'Brian and C. S. Forester.  But, taken on its own terms, I found the action of the book somewhat confusing.  As the author cuts from one character to the next, without any chapter heading or other notation to orient the reader, it is difficult at times to figure out just which character we're with.  This becomes particularly bothersome in the midst of the battle, especially when one ship is sunk and another seems to be going down; there were several times when I thought the second ship had gone down too because of the way the action shifted.  On the other hand, Nick, who is the real focus of the story, is a likable enough hero.  Also, the book serves as a welcome reminder that some significant portions of WWI were waged at sea; whereas we tend to focus entirely, or almost entirely, on the bloody trench warfare that occurred on land.

This is an acceptable maiden voyage--good enough to make us look forward to reading the succeeding volumes--but they'll need to improve quickly.


Grade: (C)


See also:

Sea Stories
Book-related and General Links:
    -BOOK SITE : The Blooding of the Guns : A Novel of the Battle of Jutland By Alexander Fullerton (FSB Associates)

    -Battle of Jutland
    -First World - The Battle of Jutland, 1916
    -Internet Home of the Battle of Jutland
    -Battle of Jutland (Spartacus)
    -Battle of Jutland (Skagerrak) (Glendon Pryor)
    -The Battle of Jutland (Rudyard Kipling, London Daily Telegraph, October 19, 23, 26, 31,1916)
    -ETEXT : 31 May 1916 : Beatty's Official Report on the Battle of Jutland (Extracted from: The Beatty Papers, vol. 1, B.McL. Ranft, ed, Navy Records Society, 1989)
    -ETEXTS : Daily Mirror Articles : The Battle of Jutland: Published June 3rd 1916
    -ESSAY : The Battle of the Skagerrak (Jutland)  (Commander Georg von Hase,  First Gunnery Officer of the Derfflinger, War Times Journal)
    -Battle of Jutland - Order of Battle
    -The Shipwrecks of the Battle of Jutland (Periscope Publishing)

    -WWI Document Archive
    -Military History Online - World War I Naval Battles