Winner of the Society for Nautical Research's prestigious Anderson Medal, 2010.
Nicholas Black examines the role of the Naval Staff of the Admiralty in the 1914-18 war, reassessing both the calibre of the Staff and the function and structure of the Staff. He challenges historians such as Arthur Marder and naval figures such as Captains Herbert Richmond and Kenneth Dewar who were influential in creating the largely bad press that the Staff has received subsequently, showing that their influence has, at times, been both unhealthy and misinformed. The way in which the Staff developed during the war from a small, overstretched and often manipulated body, to a much more highly specialised and successful one is also examined, reassessing the roles of key individuals such as Jellicoe and Geddes, and suggesting that the structure of the Staff has been misunderstood and that it was a rather more sophisticated body than historians have traditionally appreciated. Black also looks at how the Staff performed in various major naval issues of the war: the role of the Grand Fleet, the war against the U-boat, the Dardanelles Operation and the implementation of the economic blockade against Germany. Overall, the book complements, and at times challenges, both operational histories of the war and biographies of the leading individuals involved.
NICHOLAS BLACK is Head of History at Dulwich College.