Finished a book yesterday (first new book in a while). Dreadnought by Robert K. Massie, which was a pretty good book. Very informative, but not as much about battleships as one might have thought from the title. In large part the book was about the people and the circumstances that led to the creation of the battleship and how that in turn helped lead to the First World War. (Of course, the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was the spark, but this book talks about how the conditions that provided tinder for the spark.) A great deal of the book dealt with the various people in Germany and England in the years before the war that were influential in their respective governments. I learned a great deal more about people of which I had heard, Bismarck, Tirpitz, Kaiser William, Jacky Fisher, Lloyd George and others, and I learned a great deal about people whose names were new to me, such as von Bulow, Holstein, Eulenberg, Lord Lansdowne, Charles Beresford, and Edward Grey to name a few.
It’s a decent-sized book, about 900 pages, but it goes pretty quickly once one is started and away. The author does a good job of bringing the characters to life and making the time period come alive, which is no mean feat for a time both similar and yet so different. The book does feel a bit long when one reads it, mostly, I think, because he covers so many different people in depth. There is a lot of moving back and forth and re-covering points in time from different points of view that much of the book feels a bit redundant. It doesn’t stop it all from being interesting, but if one is primarily interested in the politics of the situation instead of the personalities, this book could probably be edited down to 600 pages or less. Still, I’d recommend it to anyone interested in the period or in history in general.