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The Great Navies of the First World War
  • ISBN/SKU: 9781612510828
  • Binding: Hardcover & eBook
  • Era: 20th Century
  • Number of Pages: 360
  • Subject: World War I
  • Date Available: July 2013
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BOOK NEWS: To Crown the Waves: The Great Navies of the First World War by Naval Institute Press


The only comparative analysis available of the great navies of World War I, this work studies the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom, the German Kaiserliche Marine, the United States Navy, the French Marine Nationale, the Italian Regia Marina, the Austro-Hungarian Kaiserliche und Königliche Kriegsmarine, and the Imperial Russian Navy to demonstrate why the war was won, not in the trenches, but upon the waves. It explains why these seven fleets fought the way they did and why the war at sea did not develop as the admiralties and politicians of 1914 expected.

After discussing each navy’s goals and circumstances and how their individual characteristics impacted the way they fought, the authors deliver a side-by-side analysis of the conflict’s fleets, with each chapter covering a single navy. Parallel chapter structures assure consistent coverage of each fleet—history, training, organization, doctrine, materiel, and operations—and allow readers to easily compare information among the various navies. The book clearly demonstrates how the naval war was a collision of 19th century concepts with 20th century weapons that fostered unprecedented development within each navy and sparked the evolution of the submarine and aircraft carrier. The work is free from the national bias that infects so many other books on World War I navies. As they pioneer new ways of viewing the conflict, the authors provide insights and material that would otherwise require a massive library and mastery of multiple languages. Such a study has special relevance today as 20th-century navies struggle to adapt to 21st-century technologies.

Vincent P. O’Hara is the author of The German Fleet at War, The U.S. Navy Against the Axis, and Struggle for the Middle Sea all published by Naval Institute Press. He lives in Chula Vista, CA. W. David Dickson is the author of The Battle of the Philippine Sea and lives in Hernando, MS. Richard Worth is the author of Fleets of World War II, In the Shadow of the Battleship, and Raising the Red Banner. He lives in Bolivar, MO. All three writers also edited the Naval Institute Press’s On Seas Contested: The Great Navies of the Second World War.


SNEAK PEEK: To Crown the Waves: The Great Navies of the First World War by Naval Institute Press


~ Praise for To Crown the Waves ~

the volume is nonetheless informative, especially for readers with little or no background on First World War navies.  Experienced naval historians may find facts he or she previously was previously unfamiliar with. - See more at:

To Crown the Waves is a useful book for the novice or the seasoned student of the war at sea from 1914 through 1918.”

Strategy Page

"To Crown the Waves is a particularly welcome and valuable publication, and should be the first port of call for anyone with an interest in understanding the naval war of 1914-18."

-Warship 2014

"This work gives readers a general overview while still providing extensive detail.  This book is an excellent reference work, and students of naval warfare will find it a fascinating addition to their bookshelf."

-Military Heritage

"Superb, in-depth analysis."

-Military Officer

“The section on Japan and Ottoman Turkey is useful, especially the latter section, but the conclusion is both brief and slight.  Perhaps the big lesson of the war is an old one:  seapower belongs to the nation that makes the longest and deepest commitment to the Navy, recruiting the best people, purchasing the best equipment and building the largest infrastructure.  Britain had followed this model for centuries, America learnt the lesson in 1917–1918.  A collection packed with fresh insights, and a significant contribution to our understanding of a much-studied conflict.”

-International Journal of Maritime History, 2014

"The book, then, is useful to any researcher delving into the nature of the 1914–18 war at sea, and is an invaluable contribution to naval/maritime study....The greatest value of the work is its systematic comparison of the nature,dynamics, characteristics, and structure of each navy, along with brief battle narratives....The work is an invaluable reference source for any study of the First World War and naval/maritime history at large." 

— Naval History

"The editors sought to create a reference for ready comparison--based on method, organization, and tables. This is the book’s notable strength; it does this extremely well. I would consult it often if I had a question about a navy that I was reading about in another work. While it can stand alone, this is an excellent supplement to other histories of the First World War. Even better, when coupled with the previous book, On Seas Contested, because many of the engaged nations are the same (France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, the Soviet Union, and the United States) one is able to make comparisons over the first half of the twentieth century spanning two world wars."


“Within the wider context of the First World War as a whole, this book is a useful compendium of the war at sea. With a text supported by maps, illustrations and 42 tables, it provides a breadth of information in a single volume not found elsewhere.

— Warship World

“A useful work for all collections, particularly those that have the companion volume, On Seas Contested. Summing up: Highly recommended.”

— Choice

"The volume is nonetheless informative, especially for readers with little or no background on First World War navies. Experienced naval historians may find facts her or she was previously unfamiliar with."

Naval Historical Foundation

"Excellent, in-depth analysis and contribution to military and nautical history shelves."

The Midwest Book Review

“To grasp what happened at sea during World War I, you need to go beyond the battles and the ships to see how the various navies of World War I expected to fight (and how that differed from what they experienced) and how they were organized to do so. This book is a unique and vital contribution to our understanding of the war at sea in 1914–18.”

—Norman Friedman, author of British Cruisers of the Victorian Era and Naval Weapons of World War One

“In To Crown the Waves, Vince O’Hara has led a team of experts in their particular fields in writing a uniform and comprehensive study of each of the major and minor navies of World War I. Each navy is described, from their history to their warships and their design; ports and resources that they had available; their training, strategic and tactical doctrine, and conduct of the war on, over, and under the waves, all supported with numerous tables. As such, this is an excellent introduction to the navies of all of the major and minor powers of World War I and will surprise the ‘expert’ with nuggets of new information on the navies of this era.”

—Jack Greene, coauthor of Hitler Strikes North:  The Nazi Invasion of Norway & Denmark, April 9, 1940

To Crown the Waves is a welcome addition to the naval literature of World War I. It provides a concise survey and evaluation of the major navies that goes well beyond mere lists of warships.  The chapters are written by experts in their fields, and most readers are likely to learn much that they had not known before.”

—Paul G. Halpern, Professor Emeritus, Florida State University and author of A Naval History of World War I


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