Wikipedia:WikiProject Military history/News/February 2015/Book reviews

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The British Pacific Fleet - David Hobbs

Two of the British Pacific Fleet's aircraft carriers and a pair of destroyers entering Sydney Harbour following the end of World War II

4/5 stars

By Nick-D

David Hobbs' book The British Pacific Fleet is a detailed history of the fleet of this name which fought in the Indian Ocean and north Pacific during late 1944 and early 1945. Hobbs is a former Royal Navy aviator who has written several books on naval aviation and worked as the curator of the Fleet Air Arm Museum.

The British Pacific Fleet provides a narrative of the BPF's history from its formation in Ceylon (modern-day Sri Lanka) in 1944 until it was dissolved in 1948. While the book focuses on the fleet's operations in this period, it also goes into detail on the very complicated logistical effort needed to sustain it during World War II (most of the BPF's supplies came from the UK, the fleet's main base was in Sydney, and most of its operations took place off Japan!). Not surprisingly given his background, Hobbs goes into considerable detail on air operations conducted by the BPF and provides very convincing analysis of how these raids were conducted and their results. The book also makes good use of personal accounts to help readers understand the experiences of the fleet's sailors.

The book does contain some flaws, however. Hobbs' focus on carrier operations and logistics means that the experiences of the BPF's surface combatants - many of which were from Commonwealth countries - aren't covered in much detail, even when they were involved in battles. The coverage of the 'big picture' political and military strategy developments which affected the BPF is also insufficient. While Hobbs is generally very even handed (he's very critical of flaws in British tactics and operating procedures, for instance), he's too generous to the fleet's commander Admiral Bruce Fraser and doesn't cover the poor relationship which Fraser had with the Australian Government, or the considerable stresses which the overly ambitious construction program needed to support the fleet placed on Australia's war effort.

Overall, The British Pacific Fleet is an excellent reference for editors working on articles concerning the fleet's operations or those of its continuant ships and a good read. It's a shame that Hobbs didn't provide a more rounded work by discussing the politics which affected the BPF, but nevertheless the book should be of wide interest.

Publishing details: Hobbs, David (2011). The British Pacific Fleet: The Royal Navy's Most Powerful Strike Force. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 9781591140443.

Recent external reviews

Middlekauff, Robert (2015). Washington's Revolution: The Making of America's First Leader. New York: Knopf. ISBN 1101874236.

Simms, Brendan (2015). The Longest Afternoon: The 400 Men Who Decided the Battle of Waterloo. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 0465064825.

Dunbar, Raden (2014). The Secrets of the Anzacs : The Untold Story of Venereal Disease in the Australian Army, 1914 - 1919. Brunswick, Victoria: Scribe. ISBN 9781925106169.
Fisher, Tim (2014). Maestro John Monash : Australia's Greatest Citizen General. Clayton, Victoria: Monash University Publishing. ISBN 9781922235596.

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Can you compare it to Winton's The Forgotten Fleet? Srnec (talk) 23:37, 20 February 2015 (UTC)