World War II at Sea

A Global History


Subject categories
  • 9780190243678
  • 9780190243685
  • 9780190243692
Author of Lincoln and His Admirals (winner of the Lincoln Prize), The Battle of Midway (Best Book of the Year, Military History Quarterly), and Operation Neptune, (winner of the Samuel Eliot Morison Award for Naval Literature), Craig L. Symonds has established himself as one of the finest naval historians at work today. World War II at Sea represents his crowning achievement: a complete narrative of the naval war and all of its belligerents, on all of the world's oceans and seas, between 1939 and 1945.Opening with the 1930 London Conference, Symonds shows how any limitations on naval warfare would become irrelevant before the decade was up, as Europe erupted into conflict once more and its navies were brought to bear against each other. World War II at Sea offers a global perspective, focusing on the major engagements and personalities and revealing both their scale and their interconnection: the U-boat attack on Scapa Flow and the Battle of the Atlantic; the "miracle" evacuation from Dunkirk and the pitched battles for control of Norway fjords; Mussolini's Regia Marina-at the start of the war the fourth-largest navy in the world-and the dominance of the Kidö Butai and Japanese naval power in the Pacific; Pearl Harbor then Midway; the struggles of the Russian Navy and the scuttling of the French Fleet in Toulon in 1942; the landings in North Africa and then Normandy. Here as well are the notable naval leaders-FDR and Churchill, both self-proclaimed "Navy men," Karl Dönitz, François Darlan, Ernest King, Isoroku Yamamoto, Erich Raeder, Inigo Campioni, Louis Mountbatten, William Halsey, as well as the hundreds of thousands of seamen and officers of all nationalities whose live were imperiled and lost during the greatest naval conflicts in history, from small-scale assaults and amphibious operations to the largest armadas ever assembled.Many have argued that World War II was dominated by naval operations; few have shown and how and why this was the case. Symonds combines precision with story-telling verve, expertly illuminating not only the mechanics of large-scale warfare on (and below) the sea but offering wisdom into the nature of the war itself.
  • Oxford University Press; April 2018
  • ISBN: 9780190243685
  • Read online, or download in secure PDF or secure EPUB format
  • Title: World War II at Sea
  • Author: Craig L. Symonds
  • Imprint: Oxford University Press
Subject categories
  • 9780190243678
  • 9780190243685
  • 9780190243692

In The Press

"In World War II at Sea, Mr. Symonds does for the naval struggle what Martin Gilbert did for the conflict on land in his The Second World War. A thoroughly enjoyable read, World War II at Sea sweeps its glass across the world's oceans and deftly recounts battles that shaped the course of history's greatest war."--Wall Street Journal
"Craig Symonds is a seaman and historian of the first order. His telling of this Navy Saga is as vast as the oceans themselves and as gloriously detailed as were the battles for them."--Tom Hanks
"Sweeping, majestic, and brilliant are the words that come to mind reading World War II at Sea by distinguished naval historian Craig Symonds. This will be the definitive single volume treatment of the enormously critical naval contributions to winning World War II."--Admiral James Stavridis, USN (Ret), Supreme Allied Commander at NATO 2009-2013, Dean of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University
"World War II at Sea somehow manages to distill this entire naval history into a single volume without missing a beat. How Craig Symonds accomplished this while keeping the story interesting and the narrative engaging is a fine feat. This book is a treat!" -- John Prados, author of Islands of Destiny: The Solomons Campaign and the Eclipse of the Rising Sun
"Craig L. Symonds's World War II at Sea is a wonderfully ample and invaluable single-volume naval history of the all-hands-on-deck 1939 to 1945 global conflict. All major naval engagements are concisely and brilliantly recounted here. And there are fine assessments of military leaders like Ernest King and Isoroku Yamamoto. My admiration for this book is boundless!" -- Douglas Brinkley, Professor of History, Rice University, co-author of Driven Patriot: The Life and Times of James Forrestal
"Readers will welcome this fine account from a highly qualified guide... A solid storyteller and naval scholar, Symonds mixes politics, strategy, sea battle fireworks, technical details, and personal anecdotes to deliver one of the better single-volume histories of the naval portion of WWII."--Kirkus
"A scholarly yet extremely accessible work that will be of value to anyone interested in World War II; this will likely be a new standard on the topic."--Library Journal, Starred Review
"World War II at Sea is an effective, well-written account of the war above, on, and below the oceans that draws on both classic and very recent writing to synthesize a single narrative of the entire conflict--no small feat. Even experienced readers will find valuable insights about participants, such as Finland and Italy, that are generally neglected. For anyone seeking a one-stop-shop, up-to-date naval history of the period, World War II at Sea is the book to read."--America in WWII
"World War II at Sea is as broad and deep as the far-flung waters that serve as its contextual backdrop. It's a worthy addition to any maritime history buff's book locker."--Military History magazine
"Symonds' account is refreshingly free of the finger-pointing and controversies that plague many postwar memoir-based histories. Seven decades down the road he can, and does, cherry-pick the best research."--San Antonio Express News
"Symonds's book is large. It is also a large achievement. It belongs on the bookshelves not only of every World War II buff but also of anyone who wants to think seriously about how we deal with a rising maritime competitor like China--and the geopolitical reality that, as the saying goes, whoever rules the waves rules the world."--Weekly Standard
"This book is engaging and accessible ... even to landlubbers."--Providence Journal
"Symonds deftly shifts from the 30,000-foot view of the war down to the 20-foot view, placing readers front and center to the war's action. A gifted writer, he make such action come alive. It's been more than a half-century since Samuel Eliot Morison first published The Two-Ocean War, which in the publishing business means we are long overdue for a fresh perspective and take on the topic. Symonds delivers just that, producing a book that doubles as both an entertaining crash course for the historically uninitiated as well as a riveting revisit of the war's major stories for those with a deeper understanding. Either way, it is a great read."--James M. Scott, author of Target Tokyo and Rampage, from a review in the Charleston Post and Courier
"Until now, no single volume covered the entire war at sea, in all theaters, with a focus on every major navy. That's just what Symonds provides, with riveting chapters on German U-boats and pocket battleships, Italian and British duels in the Mediterranean Sea, Japanese dreams of imperial grandeur, and, of course, the relentless U.S. naval counteroffensive across the globe. While plenty of readers will be familiar with parts of the tale, from the stunning reversal in Japan's fortunes at the Battle of Midway to the endless Allied struggle to find enough shipping to carry on a three-front war, Symonds succeeds at weaving each part into a coherent whole."--Foreign Policy
"Symonds provides an engaging text that furnishes comprehensive and authoritative coverage of operational events, profiles leading personalities while quoting from numerous engaged individuals, and reviews the strategic and economic decisions of the various Axis and Allied nations... Essential."--CHOICE Reviews
"This outstanding naval history of World War II will likely become the definitive introductory textbook for studying the naval aspects of the war. Craig L. Symonds, probably the foremost naval historian in the United States, is uniquely qualified to integrate all of the disparate naval actions in World War II around the world seamlessly into one volume... World War II at Sea is an outstanding addition and further proof of his absolute mastery of the craft of writing naval history."--Bill Cox, H-War

About The Author

Craig L. Symonds is Ernest J. King Distinguished Professor of Maritime History at the U.S. Naval War College and also Professor Emeritus at the U.S. Naval Academy where he taught for thirty years and served as Department Chair.