THE GREAT NAVAL GAME: Britain and Germany in the Age of Empire

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THE GREAT NAVAL GAME: Britain and Germany in the Age of Empire By Jan Ruger Cambridge University Press, $39.95, 2010

As we, today, are witnessing another Great Power Naval race by the United States and the People's Republic of China, this is a very timely work, indeed! It details just such another race a century ago that ultimately led to the start of the First World War of 1914-1918. A university professor, the author was awarded the Prize of the German Historical Institute of London for this stellar work on the 1897-1914 Naval building rivalry between the Royal Navy of Great Britain and the new German Imperial High Seas Fleet of Kaiser Wilhelm II.

The commander already of Continental Europe's premier army in 1888, His Majesty wanted a Navy second or even equal to that of his grandmother Queen Victoria allegedly to "complement" that of his English relatives. The British, however, believed that the Kaiser's Naval armada would, indeed, "fall on England" as soon as it was fully up and iimning, which was set for the year 1920.

It was thus no accident that the Great War broke out in 1914, just after the opening of the new Kaiser Wilhelm Canal that would allow passage to the open sea of the German Emperor's spanking-new battleships, cruisers, and other vessels. …