Reviews for Churchill and Sea Power

"[A] “must read” for the Churchill expert. Churchill and Seapower ... will take its place on the shelf alongside essential thematic volumes by Paul Addison, David Reynolds, David Stafford, and others. It more than supersedes Stephen Roskill’s heavily fault-finding Churchill and the Admirals (London, 1977) yet, at the same time, demonstrates that admiration for Churchill need not mean abandoning critical distance. Bell provides a welldocumented, thorough, and fair-minded defense of Churchill against the best-known attacks on his strategic prowess. Yet the author also shows that historians have too long accepted at face value Churchill’smemoir account of howhe reacted to theU-boatmenace. In other words, Bell turns many existing understandings on their head. ... In all, this author has provided a stimulating, detailed, and thought-provoking work that deserves to be widely read by professional and amateur Churchillians alike.

Richard Toye, Journal of Modern History

Churchill and Sea Power is a real contribution to an understanding of how this gifted and forceful leader influenced naval policy at various stages in his long career ... Buttressed with solid scholarship this readable and engaging study is a fresh and balanced examination of Winston Churchill's impact on how two world wars were fougth at sea and on peacetime naval policy."

Jan Drent, The Northern Mariner

Christopher Bell has produced a thoughtful and objective account moving well beyond the simplistic ‘Churchill bashing’ that some other writers have engaged in ... This is a scholarly, comprehensive and lucid overview of a very important subject. It goes well beyond purely naval aspects.

Evan Mawdsley, Intelligence and National Security

Surprisingly, given Churchill’s long identification with the Royal Navy, this is this first ever analysis of the man as a naval strategist. Prof. Bell (Dalhousie) makes an excellent case that while not perfect Churchill’s record is far better than is generally believed. ... Churchill & Sea Power is a necessary read for anyone interested in naval warfare in the twentieth century.

A.A. Nofi, Strategy Page

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"In this richly detailed study, Christopher Bell re-examines Churchill's relationship with the Royal Navy and the wider concept of 'sea power' ... This book is an essential corrective to assumptions about the great wartime premier."

Andrew Lambert, BBC History Magazine

The thoroughness and calm objectivity of Bell’s work makes this book essential reading for students of both Churchill’s career and modern British sea power.

Raymond Callahan, American Historical Review

"With meticulous research into archival and other primary sources, Bell debunks many myths about Churchill’s abilities as a naval strategist. He argues persuasively that many criticisms of Churchill’s role in various events, which paint him as interfering, reckless, and incompetent, are based too uncritically on meager evidence or on the repetition of biased arguments from key early sources ..."

Rebecca Matzke, Journal of British Studies

"There are many “essential” books in a library devoted to Churchill. This is one of them."

Clifford Cunningham, Sun News Miami

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Churchill's evolution as a maritime strategist has often been overlooked by his critics, however Bell provides us with an exceptionally readable and detailed narrative charting Churchill's career. Those in the pro- or anti-Churchill camps will not struggle to find common ground in Bell's interpretation of events. Regardless of which corner one falls into, Churchill and Seapower is a worthy addition to the collection of anyone interested in the naval history of the 20th century.

Timothy E. Cloke, Naval History

"Bell, an established and well respected historian of the twentieth-century Royal Navy, explores the subject by a balanced and stimulating chronological review of Churchill’s direct and indirect association with the Royal Navy from before the First World War to the end of the Second. … This is rich fare. Many of Churchill’s conceptions of sea power are thoroughly and sensibly considered in this book, which deserves to be read not just because it is about Churchill but also for its secondary topic … the balance struck between the military and its political masters in the direction of war."

Geoffrey Till, Naval War College Review

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"The author of an outstanding first book on the Royal Navy between the world wars, Christopher M. Bell carefully examines Churchill’s lengthy naval career in this superb new volume. … Bell’s detailed exegesis intends “not to absolve him of blame, but to understand his motives, assess the extent of his responsibility, and evaluate the soundness of the charges” against him. In this task the author succeeds admirably."

J. Garry Clifford, H-Net

The book will appeal to both military scholars and serious amateurs. Bell carefully mines official records as well as personal letters and diaries in an even-handed account of the Royal Navy’s last great naval warlord. … Churchill and Sea Power provides a balanced view of Churchill’s worst mistakes, documenting his stubborn and ludicrous beliefs about naval strategy in both World Wars. … Readers of Christopher Bell’s meticulously researched, clearly written book will gain a far more nuanced appreciation of an undeniably great figure in modern military history.

Ralph Hitchens, Michigan War Studies Review

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Bell’s volume is a far-ranging, elegantly written and insightful analysis of Churchill’s interest in seapower across the five decades that he was a major public figure. … Perhaps surprisingly, Christopher Bell’s reappraisal of Churchill demonstrates that detailed scrutiny even of the most famous of personalities can still pay major dividends.

Matthew Seligmann, Journal of Strategic Studies

“Ranging over events covering nearly half a century, this is an important addition to the already vast literature on Churchill as a military leader. … Bell’s volume rewards close reading. His final summation is measured and warranted”.

Christopher H. Sterling, Finest Hour

This is a powerful and original case for the defence, based on extracting Churchill from the myth-history and putting him back into a realistic account of his times. ... Overall this is a cogent and important study based on a great deal of research. It will certainly not please those who have invested in the established interpretations, but it cannot be ignored.

N.A.M. Rodger, Journal of Military History