Planning Armageddon: British Economic Warfare and the First World War

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9780674061491: Planning Armageddon: British Economic Warfare and the First World War

*Winner of the 2013 Norman B. Tomlinson Prize

Before the First World War, the British Admiralty conceived a plan to win rapid victory in the event of war with Germany--economic warfare on an unprecedented scale.This secret strategy called for the state to exploit Britain's effective monopolies in banking, communications, and shipping--the essential infrastructure underpinning global trade--to create a controlled implosion of the world economic system.

In this revisionist account, Nicholas Lambert shows in lively detail how naval planners persuaded the British political leadership that systematic disruption of the global economy could bring about German military paralysis. After the outbreak of hostilities, the government shied away from full implementation upon realizing the extent of likely collateral damage--political, social, economic, and diplomatic--to both Britain and neutral countries. Woodrow Wilson in particular bristled at British restrictions on trade. A new, less disruptive approach to economic coercion was hastily improvised. The result was the blockade, ostensibly intended to starve Germany. It proved largely ineffective because of the massive political influence of economic interests on national ambitions and the continued interdependencies of all countries upon the smooth functioning of the global trading system.
Lambert's interpretation entirely overturns the conventional understanding of British strategy in the early part of the First World War and underscores the importance in any analysis of strategic policy of understanding the "political conditions of war."

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About the Author:

Nicholas A. Lambert's major publications include Sir John Fisher's Naval Revolution (1999).

Review:

Lambert offers a radical reinterpretation of British strategy in the early part of World War I, particularly in regard to the relationship between economic and sea power... This book is more than a work of conventional naval history. [Lambert] is a master of bureaucratic politics, and I am not aware of a better account of how the Whitehall system worked in relation to strategic planning between 1904 and 1915...Lambert has made a major contribution to our understanding of Britain's role in World War I.
--G.C. Peden (American Historical Review Dec 2012)

Lambert argues that to understand Britain's strategy in the First World War, historical engagement needs to develop beyond continental land operations and the movements of navies and expeditionary forces, to encompass a broader economic dimension which he posits underpinned Britain's real strategy for a world war. [He} has achieved an impressive feat of scholarship. His close reading of a vast array of private and official papers brilliantly illuminates the working of Cabinet government in wartime.
-- W. Philpott (Twentieth Century British History, June 2013)

Nicholas Lambert has written a powerful book. If you can read it, do so. At least read the introduction. It may change your idea about what happened to the British from August 1914 through 1915, and it should get you thinking about the similarities and differences between 1912 and 2012.  [Full review available at - usnwc.edu/Publications/Naval-War-College-Review/2013---Spring.aspx]
-- Tom Hone. (Naval War College Review, Spring 2013)

This is a very important book... In essence, and it is hard to do justice to a work of such scope in the remit of a review, Lambert argues that before 1914 British policymakers had developed, refined, and adopted a system of economic warfare far more total, rigorous, and wide-ranging than any mere 'blockade'.... Anyone writing about the development of British grand strategy, diplomacy, politics, civil-military relations and inter-service rivalries of this period will need to study this book. 
-- Andrew Lambert (War in History, Apr 2013)

The importance of Planning Armageddon lies in the book’s wider applicability to imperial and international history—especially as an essential study on the naval and strategic side of globalization.... sets a benchmark in its integrated approach to global economic history and strategic affairs: Lambert’s book is the one for the seminar room, in addition to comprehensive reading lists and essential reference. It is scholarship to be widely read, pondered, and debated—well beyond its ostensible niche. What stronger endorsement can there be? (John Brobst, H-Diplo, Jan 2014)

Lambert’s challenging, exhaustively researched and sophisticated analysis examines British planning for offensive economic warfare against Germany and its implementation in 1914 and 1915.  [His] argument centres on two further claims of immense significance for our understanding of pre-war international history. Firstly, he argues that the Committee of Imperial Defence adopted economic warfare as the national strategy in 1912.... Secondly, Lambert claims that economic warfare was the naval version of the short war [strategy].
--William Mulligan (English Historical Review, June 2014)

Readers of British naval strategy in the Fisher era will be seduced and provoked by this admirably engaging, significant, and persuasive book. It is a work of meticulous scholarship, based on exhaustive exploration of sources, and challenging in its interpretations. Lambert is an outstanding scholar at the height of his powers. (Cameron Hazlehurst, FRSL, FRHistS, Australian National University)

The story of how tensions during World War I took a different course from the Napoleonic era illuminates economic warfare's limitations with broader lessons for what it can and cannot accomplish. In Planning Armageddon, Nicholas Lambert meticulously reconstructs the process by which Britain developed and then implemented plans for economic warfare against Germany. His well-written, though detailed, account provides a revisionist interpretation of British strategy which calls into question received opinion on how the Royal Navy aimed to fight a European war. (William Anthony Hay Policy Review 2012-08-01)

In this formidable book, [Lambert] develops the thesis that between 1905 and 1912 the British Empire adopted a maritime strategy of economic warfare that was designed to bring down its major potential enemy—Germany—rapidly, efficiently and on its own. With meticulous scholarship he traces the emergence of this strategy and its 'envisioning,' exposition and endorsement... What is especially impressive about the book is the author's mastery of the contemporary global financial situation whose dynamics, based on shipping, credit and cables—and whose potential fragility—he explains very clearly... [Lambert] has produced a book of high-quality research and analysis, which is truly a landmark in the historiography of the First World War. The place of the British Empire in that conflict cannot be fully understood without exploring its accessible pages. Despite its weight, in all senses it is a book hard to put down. (Eric Grove Royal United Services Institute Journal 2012-08-01)

Lambert's Sir John Fisher's Naval Revolution, which took the story [of British naval history] to the outbreak of the First World War, left readers thirsty to discover how he might transform our understanding of the war itself, having opened a completely new perspective on the pre-war years. We have waited thirteen years, but this massive book and the prodigious research it rests upon, fully justify the time it has taken... Nicholas Lambert's subject is not naval history at all in the classic sense but British grand strategy; how the British planned to fight before 1914, and why in the event they found themselves making war in ways they had previously decided were undesirable, unthinkable or fatal... Contrary to what almost all other historians have written, Lambert shows that the Cabinet had drawn sharply back from what in 1911 had briefly looked like committing the bulk of the British army to a Continental campaign. From 1912, Britain's war strategy was a form of economic blockade, based less on the physical interception of merchant ships at sea than on the exploitation of Britain's dominance of shipping and finance. Not the least important and original part of this book is its reconstruction of this strategy from the fragmentary and ambiguous evidence which has led so many other scholars in different directions... Time alone will tell whether Nicholas Lambert, who has demolished the ideas of so many other scholars, is himself vulnerable to revision. Few will match the massive scope and depth of his research. (N. A. M. Rodger Journal of Maritime History 2012-06-01)

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Descripción HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS, United States, 2012. Hardback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Before the First World War, the British Admiralty conceived a plan to win rapid victory in the event of war with Germany--economic warfare on an unprecedented scale.This secret strategy called for the state to exploit Britain s effective monopolies in banking, communications, and shipping--the essential infrastructure underpinning global trade--to create a controlled implosion of the world economic system. In this revisionist account, Nicholas Lambert shows in lively detail how naval planners persuaded the British political leadership that systematic disruption of the global economy could bring about German military paralysis. After the outbreak of hostilities, the government shied away from full implementation upon realizing the extent of likely collateral damage--political, social, economic, and diplomatic--to both Britain and neutral countries. Woodrow Wilson in particular bristled at British restrictions on trade. A new, less disruptive approach to economic coercion was hastily improvised. The result was the blockade, ostensibly intended to starve Germany. It proved largely ineffective because of the massive political influence of economic interests on national ambitions and the continued interdependencies of all countries upon the smooth functioning of the global trading system. Lambert s interpretation entirely overturns the conventional understanding of British strategy in the early part of the First World War and underscores the importance in any analysis of strategic policy of understanding Clausewitz s political conditions of war. Nº de ref. de la librería AAU9780674061491

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Descripción HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS, United States, 2012. Hardback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Before the First World War, the British Admiralty conceived a plan to win rapid victory in the event of war with Germany--economic warfare on an unprecedented scale.This secret strategy called for the state to exploit Britain s effective monopolies in banking, communications, and shipping--the essential infrastructure underpinning global trade--to create a controlled implosion of the world economic system. In this revisionist account, Nicholas Lambert shows in lively detail how naval planners persuaded the British political leadership that systematic disruption of the global economy could bring about German military paralysis. After the outbreak of hostilities, the government shied away from full implementation upon realizing the extent of likely collateral damage--political, social, economic, and diplomatic--to both Britain and neutral countries. Woodrow Wilson in particular bristled at British restrictions on trade. A new, less disruptive approach to economic coercion was hastily improvised. The result was the blockade, ostensibly intended to starve Germany. It proved largely ineffective because of the massive political influence of economic interests on national ambitions and the continued interdependencies of all countries upon the smooth functioning of the global trading system. Lambert s interpretation entirely overturns the conventional understanding of British strategy in the early part of the First World War and underscores the importance in any analysis of strategic policy of understanding Clausewitz s political conditions of war. Nº de ref. de la librería AAU9780674061491

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Descripción Harvard University Press, 2012. Estado de conservación: New. Before World War I, the British Admiralty conceived a plan to win rapid victory over Germany--economic warfare on an unprecedented scale. The secret strategy called for the state to exploit Britain's monopolies in banking, communications, and shipping to create an implosion of the world economic system. The plan was never fully implemented. Num Pages: 662 pages, 1 map, 1 table. BIC Classification: 1DBK; 3JJF; HBJD1; HBWN; JPS; JWK; KCZ. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 167 x 243 x 47. Weight in Grams: 1140. . 2012. Hardcover. . . . . . Nº de ref. de la librería V9780674061491

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Descripción Harvard University Press. Estado de conservación: New. Before World War I, the British Admiralty conceived a plan to win rapid victory over Germany--economic warfare on an unprecedented scale. The secret strategy called for the state to exploit Britain's monopolies in banking, communications, and shipping to create an implosion of the world economic system. The plan was never fully implemented. Num Pages: 662 pages, 1 map, 1 table. BIC Classification: 1DBK; 3JJF; HBJD1; HBWN; JPS; JWK; KCZ. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 167 x 243 x 47. Weight in Grams: 1140. . 2012. Hardcover. . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Nº de ref. de la librería V9780674061491

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