Jutland: Victory (?) at Sea


The Battle of Jutland reverberates powerfully in the history of naval combat, and it does so with a resonance that equals or exceeds that of such history-shaping sea struggles as Salamis in 480 b.c., Lepanto in 1571, Trafalgar in 1805, and Leyte Gulf in 1944. Now, in Jutland, Nicholas Jellicoe gives us a timely perspective on the events of May 31-June 1, 1916, in the North Sea—with copious detail and an opportunity to think about its present relevance.

The happenings at Jutland were the epicenter of the violent transition from the wind-powered naval combat of the Age of Sail to industrialized warfare at sea. In addition, the battle was the culmination of an Anglo-German naval building race, a competition that threatened the British naval dominance established by Lord Nelson with his decisive victory over the combined French-Spanish fleet at Trafalgar. The German historian Michael Epkenhans helps set the stage in an insightful foreword:

this battle was a showdown between the most highly developed battle technologies, with what were essentially…

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