New Interpretations in Naval History: Selected Papers From the Sixteenth Naval History Symposium

New Interpretations in Naval History: Selected Papers From the Sixteenth Naval History Symposium
New Interpretations in Naval History: Selected Papers From the Sixteenth Naval History Symposium
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This manuscript is a compilation of essasys presented at the 2009 Naval History Symposium, the 16th in the series. The contributors are all maritime and naval historians, and their contributions range from the U.S. colonial era through the 1960s. They are not tied to a central theme but represent the vitality of studies in naval and maritime history.


Other published U.S. Federal agency works based on symposium materials:

Early Cold War Overflights, 1950-1956: Symposium Proceedings, Held at the Tighe Auditorium, Defense Intelligence Agency, 22-23 February 2001, V. 1: Memoirs; V. 2, Appendices is available here:

Confronting Security Challenges on the Korean Peninsula is available here:

Coalition Air Warfare in the Korean War, 1950 1953: Proceedings Air Force Historical Foundation Symposium, Andrews AFB, Maryland May 7-8. 2002 is available here:

The Office of Scientific Intelligence: The Original Wizards of Langley: A Symposium Commemorating 60 Years of S&T Intelligence Analysis (Book and DVD) is available here:

Silver Wings, Golden Valor: The USAF Remembers Korea is available here:

Security Assistance, U.S. and International Historical Perspectives is available here:

Ronald Reagan, Intelligence and the End of the Cold War: Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Simi Valley, California, November 2, 2011 is available here:

Terrorism Research and Analysis Project (TRAP): A Collection of Research Ideas, Thoughts, and Perspectives, V. 1 is available here:

Counterinsurgency Leadership in Afghanistan, Iraq and Beyond is available here:

The Iranian Puzzle Piece: Understanding Iran In The Global Context is available here:

Are We Prepared?: Four WMD Crises That Could Transform U.S. Security is available here:

Providing the Means of War: Historical Perspectives on Defense Acquisition, 1945-2000 is available here:

Al-Qaida After Ten Years of War: A Global Perspective of Successes, Failures, and Prospects is available here:


Members of the U.S. Navy, as well as veterans, might be interested in these selected papers. In addition, some of the essays and topics would be appropriate military history students.


Vol. 24, No. 2 (December 2012) issue of International Journal of Maritime History

Book review for printed edition:

Craig C. Felker and Marcus O. Jones (eds.), New Interpretations in Naval History. Selected Papers from the Sixteenth Naval History Symposium
Held at the United States Naval Academy 10-11 September 2009.  Newport, RI: Naval War College Press [], xxiii+ 166 pp., notes.
US $32 (International Price, $44.80) paper, ISBN 978-1-884733-91-8.

The US Naval Academy's Naval History Symposium, held regularly during the last forty-one years "continues, " in the words of John Hattendorf, " to be one of the most important events for the scholarly exchange of ideas on naval history [serving] this purpose not only in the United States for America naval history but in the world at large for global  naval history."  The published volumes of selected papers capture the essence and growth of the syposium over the last four decades:  New Interpretations in Naval History is now the well-established title of most of them.  They are sterling witnesses to the Naval Academy's desire to encourage curiosity-based historical research rather than command-oriented current topical or thematic research.  This volume from the sixteenth symposium maintains and adds to the transition established by its predecesors.  The editors have selected twelve papers from over seventy that were presented during the two-day program that is appended to the volume's preface.  The papers, which in the editors' "words" offer but a brief glimpse of the diversity and energy of the naval and maritime community." range over American, Spanish, Austrian, British, and Canadian navies from the period of the American War of Independence in Vietnam.  Several papers caught this reviewer's attention.

Christopher P. Magra's study of colonial resistance to British naaval impresment during the American revolutionary era continues to eleborate and reinforce an argument first developed several decades ago, that land historians overlook at their peril the maritime dimensions of the US War of Independence. His paper argues that naval impressment was an important grievance that helped fuel the colonial rebellion.  Michael Barrett's narrative of the riverine operations of the Austrian navy's Danube flotilla during the 1916 Roman campaign makes for interesting reading, but a map of the area would have been of inestimable value.  The Romanian declaration of war against the Central Powers have cuaght the Austrians off guard.  The Austro-German army's successful repulse of the Romanian attacks was greatly aided by the Austiran rivver flotilla.  He shows that riverine naval warfare may be a vital to success as seaborne operations.   Bruce Taylor's paper continues his fine study of British naval communities afloat presented in his illustrtion biography of HMS Hood. He discusses how studying attitudes and values of issue of the navy as an effective force for the defence of national security.  His throughtful paper addresses and challenges historians who want to get at the human condition of life afloat when faced with the likelihood of achieving only partial success.  Challenges to overheated historical explanations are the subject of John T. Kuehn's approach to the sinking of the German dreadnought Ostfriesland in Chesapeake Bay after the First World War by US Army Air Corps bombers.  He examines how the General Board of the US Navy reacted to ship data collected by representatives of the Bureau of Construction and Repair.  He concludes that, far from the death of the battleship as trumpeted by General Billy Mitchell, the data led to critically important changes in battleship construciton, increased watertight security and anti-aircraft defences that served the navy well during the Second World War.  Ken Hansen and Kathleen Broome Williams tell contrasting stories on unknown aspects of the Bttle of the Atlantic: ecort oilers and acoustic torpedoes.  Read together, these papers contain lessons about the ambiguities and challenges of Allied collaboration.  Cooperation was never easy and sometimes downright impossible, and Hansen reveals much about the small Canadian navy's reliance upon questionable Admiralty guidance in the face of succesful USN logistical operations.

This slim volume has much to recommend it to a wide audience.  Its broad scope. absence of jargon, and reasonable price make it accessible to both specialits and generalists.  The extensive notes accompanying each article serve in lieu of a bibliography.  Readers may dip into the book at leisure for entertainment and enlightenment.  While some papers are by leading scholars in their fields, others are by young historians setting out on a longer journey; together they present the present and future of naval history.

James Pritchard
Kingston, ON, Canada

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  • Felker, Craig C.
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  • Naval War College Historical Monograph Series 20
  • Naval History Symposium 16
  • Naval History
  • Military History
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