This general history of the world's navies treats all major powers through the ages, from the Minoans in 2000 B.C. to the Americans in A.D. 2000. It was written both to serve as an introduction for the general reader and student and to broaden the historical perspective of specialists and naval professionals by questioning why some navies succeed and others fail. Calling attention to the continuities and contrasts of naval policies and actions, author Clark Reynolds covers major and limited wars, fleet actions, commerce warfare, naval diplomacy, deterrence, strategy, tactics, and technology. Such comprehensive coverage is rare--most naval histories focus on big wars and battles and scarcely treat economic, political, and ideological factors. This study is also the first to thoroughly examine the roles of navies during and since the Cold War.
The book opens with a brief overview of the functions of navies and then is divided chronologically into the following chapters: Antiquity, the Middle Ages and Early Renaissance, Iberian Global Empires, Dutch Naval Mastery, the French Naval Challenge, British Naval Supremacy, the War of the American Revolution, the Age of Nelson, the British Pax, the American Civil War, Naval Strategists and Arms Races, World War I, Naval Arms Control, World War II in the Atlantic, World War II in the Pacific, and the American Pax. The narrative is enhanced by essays on such special topics as life at sea, the advent of steam and steel, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Principal naval leaders are highlighted. Illustrations and diagrams of selected naval battles and warships, maps, and a list of suggested readings add to the text.