by Eric Wertheim. Naval Institute Press 2007. $250.00. ISBN 1591149552. Hardcover. 1124 pages & 4450 photographs.
Internationally acknowledged as the best one-volume reference to the world’s naval and paranaval forces, this popular Naval Institute guide is both comprehensive and affordable. Updated biennially since 1976, it has come to be relied on for all-inclusive, accurate, and up-to-date data on the ships, navies, coast guards, and naval aviation arms of more than 180 countries and territories. Large fleets and small maritime forces get equally thorough treatment as evidenced in this new edition, which highlights major and even minor developments that could have an impact on the world scene. A thorough indexing of material and a logical ship-typing system make the book easy to use and allow for quick comparisons between fleets.
The guide continues to present timely, authoritative information supported by more than four thousand illustrations from correspondents throughout the world. From giant aircraft carriers and ballistic missile submarines to tugboats and launches, the characteristics and capabilities of ships large and small are reliably recorded. Complete descriptions of naval aircraft, weapons, weapon systems, and sensors are also provided along with useful commentary on organization, personnel strengths, and bases.
Previously Combat Fleets had been issued every two years, the latest being 2005-06. However this time it is "15th Edition" which leaves one to wonder how often it will be published in future.
This is Wertheim's second edition after taking over from the very large shoes of previous editor AD Baker III. This latest work reflects Wertheim getting a better grasp of the subject matter.
However one area that disappoints, albeit on a minor scale, is the copy editing or proof reading. There are a number of small error which should have been picked up before publishing. Due to the technical nature of the subject, a copy editor with subject knowledge to spot both spelling and grammar errors as well as technical points would be a big help.
Several superb photos are in this latest work as usual. Some of the most well known ship photographers are featured such as Chris Sattler, Rob Cabo, Ralph Edwards and Frank Findler to name but a few.
With the great number of photos contained, this book should be a valuable addition to the bookshelf of professionals and those with an interest in ships. Compared to some competitors, Combat Fleets of the World represents good value for the money.