Wednesday, August 26, 2009

THE DARDANELLES DISASTER: Winston Churchill's Greatest Failure Reviewed in Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly looks at Dan Van der Vat's riveting account of Winston Churchill's greatest-and almost career-ending-defeat in 1915 as the British Navy's made a disastrous attempt to pass through the Dardanelles to Constantinople. Widely regarded as a turning point in the history of World War I, acclaimed naval military expert Van der Vat argues that the disaster at the Dardanelles prolonged the war by two years, led to the Russian Revolution, forced Britain to the brink of starvation, and contributed to the destabilization of the Middle East.

Here's the PW review of The Dardanelles Disaster: Winston Churchill's Greatest Failure: "Winston Churchill as First Lord of the Admiralty is the central figure in naval historian van Der Vat's (The Ship that Changed the World) account of a disaster that prolonged the Great War by two years and laid the groundwork for the collapse of the czarist and Ottoman empires. The plan to take the Dardanelles strait was Churchillian in its conception: the boldest strategic concept of WWI, designed to simultaneously outflank a deadlocked Western Front and open a supply route to Russia. Its promise was thwarted by incompetent execution—beginning with Churchill's insistence on the navy forcing the Dardanelles alone, without ground troop support. The Royal Navy's predictable inability to push its battleships past the guns and minefields defending the Dardanelles forts in March 1915 followed the Allies' failure to intercept the German cruisers Goeben and Breslau before they reached Turkish waters and triggered the German-Ottoman alliance. An improvised land campaign undertaken with poorly trained troops whose senior commanders set unsurpassed standards of ineptitude ensued. General readers will find enlightening this extended demonstration of the contributions command can make to catastrophe."

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