By Michael Whitby, Richard H Gimblett and Peter HaydonDundurn Press 2006ISBN 1550025805
The Admirals: Canada's Senior Naval Leadership in the Twentieth Century fills an important void in the history of Canada's navy. Those who carry the burden of high command have a critical niche in not only guiding the day-to-day concerns of running an armed service but in ensuring that it is ready to face the challenges of the future.
Canada's leading naval historians present analytical articles on the officers who led the navy from its foundation in 1910 to the unification in 1968. Six former Maritime Commanders provide personal reflections on command. The result is a valuable biographical compendium for anyone interested in the history of the Canadian Navy, the Canadian Forces, or military and naval leadership in general.
The three gentleman listed as authors on the cover are well known in Canadian naval history circles. To most readers, they probably require little introduction. Each contributed one chapter to the work and the trio served as a sort of quasi-educational board for the submitted essays which formed the basis of the book's chapters.
Most of the admirals written about in this work were forced to make do under circumstances of severe financial hardship. The Canadian Navy has been perennially starved for funds for most of its existence. How these men made do under these types of circumstances varied by their personal styles.
Most of the articles are written to give the reader a very good feel of the admirals. However the book would've been better to be more consistent in styling. However with the approach of essays written by a range of contributors, this was not always possible.
Sharper editing would've caught the lack of mention of the German freighter Hannover becoming escort carrier HMS Audacity and the coining of the term "frigate" to describe what were originally known as "twin-screwed" corvettes by Percy Nelles. In addition, as a person of Scottish heritage, I noticed that the term "Scotch" was used in at least one instance instead of the correct "Scottish."
One facet of Canadian naval history I did not know was the attempt to develop a seagoing data sharing system between ships known as DATAR. This was never funded in Canada and was instead adopted by the US Navy as the NTDS; the forerunner of a number of systems currently in use in US, Canadian and other navies.
For the serious student of Canadian naval history, this book will be a welcome addition to their bookshelf. (DS)