Peter Padfield


An interesting and well-researched history of the nautical leviathan that was the battleship. Padfield begins in the 1850s and ends with the demise of the Yamato under an American aerial assault less than a century later. In between he focuses on the progress of the battleship; as it increases in size, so did its armour and the guns needed to penetrate it. The improvement in gunnery fire control and accuracy, and the naval arms race before the Great War are proficiently explored, as are many of the naval encounters since 1850. The book explains why naval superiority was so essential in a time before radar and long-distance aircraft, contributing decisively to many of the conflicts.

The human element is also explored, from admiral to able seaman, the fascinating references from all ranks interspersed with technical information and battle accounts such as Jutland and Tsushima. A worthy addition to anyone's library...

Book Details:

  • Author: Peter Padfield
  • Published Year: 2000
  • Rights Sold
    • UK: Birlinn
Peter Padfield

Peter Padfield

Peter Padfield was born in 1932 and educated at Christ's Hospital. After service as a navigating officer in P&O liners, he gained a berth as a mariner aboard the replica seventeenth century Mayflower on her recreation of the Pilgrim Fathers' voyage and later panned for gold in the disused gold mines on Guadalcanal. He described his time in the Pacific and the Mayflower voyage in his first book The Sea is a Magic Carpet.Returning to Britain, he worked in nautical journalism and in manufacturing industry until the international success of The Titanic and the Californian encou...
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Book Reviews

  • "...well written and balanced in judgement and makes good use of the primary material in the Naval Library at Earls Court, which has been too little exploited by other writers. Above all, it deserves particular attention for its author's specialized knowledge of the development of naval gunnery and fire control, previously displayed in his biography of Admiral Sir Percy Scott and his Guns at Sea..."
    The Times Literary Supplement
  • "A detailed history of 80 years in which the battleship reigned as a major weapon until its obsolescence when it was outranked in effectiveness by submarines and aircraft. The warship and Great Britain as a maritime power are historically intertwined, and Padfield's study retraces English naval strategy from the late-eighteenth century to the 1940s...A fascinating documentary account of particular interest to the armchair strategist..."
    American Librarians' Association Booklist
  • "The Battleship Era will enhance the author's reputation as an authority on naval affairs. It describes the evolution, use and eclipse of the battleship and is mainly about the period that began with the Crimean War and ended with the destruction of Japanese battleships by United States air power and battleships during the 1939-45 war."
    Lloyd's List
  • "Peter Padfield has written a splendid book about their archaeology and again makes one wonder whether such things really did roam the seas. With crisp scholarship, he traces the development of the battleship from sailing ships - much like Nelson's - which had been fitted with auxiliary steam engines and had iron armour hung on their sides, to the ultimate: the Japanese battleship Yamato, a giant of more than 70,000 tons, firing 18-inch shells more than 20 miles."
    Books and Bookmen