Review: British Cruisers

British Cruisers

Norman Friedman turns his knowledgeable eye to one of the most arbitrary ship classes in British Cruisers. Going from the early 20th Century to the Cold War, he covers the enigmatic ship type that can best be summed up as “bigger than a contemporary destroyer, but not too big”. From wartime workhorses to unusual goofy designs, Friedman leaves few Royal Navy stones unturned.

The final desperate attempts at large capital ships after 1945 are the most interesting to me. The large “escort cruisers” started off as ASW helicopter ships, then grew into the famed de facto light carriers they became and were later used as. Everything else was rightly shelved. But this is a typically excellent technical history of cruisers in all eras.

Review: US Battleships

US Battleships: An Illustrated Design History

Norman Friedman’s US Battleships: An Illustrated Design History was one of the first really big, really crunchy, really technical books on military equipment that I got. It’s obviously not light reading (at least for normal people), but it flows well. And I honestly think battleships are the best suited to a historical chronicle like this.

Since 99% of their history was in the past tense (the sole exception being the Iowa reactivation at the time of the book), it means there’s less sensitive info around. And since battleships are gigantic and awesome (don’t lie), it makes for fascinating reading. In battleships, you can see the US Navy going from its humble beginnings to its World War II juggernaut.

Technical naval warfare fans should definitely get this book. It’s one of the best of its kind.