The British Navy's failed attempt to capture Constantinople and secure a sea route to Russia in 1915 marked a turning point of World War I. Acclaimed naval military historian Dan van der Vat argues that the disaster at the Dardanelles not only prolonged the war for two years and brought Britain to the brink of starvation, but also led to the Russian Revolution and contributed to the rapid destabilization of the Middle East. With a narrative rich in human drama, "The Dardanelles Disaster" highlights the diplomatic clashes from Whitehall to the Hellespont, Berlin to Constantinople, and St Petersburg to the Bosporus. Van der Vat analyzes then-First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill's response to the obstacles he faced and describes the fateful actions of the Turkish, German, and British governments throughout the Gallipoli Campaign. With detailed analysis of the battle's events and never-before-published information on the German navy's mine laying operations, "The Dardanelles Disaster" tells a forgotten story from a fresh viewpoint, shedding light on one of World War I's most pivotal moments - and in particular on one avoidable and monumental blunder.
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Dan van der Vat, the British scholar of naval history, has written for The New York Times, The Times and Sunday Times, and now writes for the Guardian. He has written many books on naval history, including "The Ship That Changed the World".From Publishers Weekly:
Winston Churchill as First Lord of the Admiralty is the central figure in naval historian van Der Vat's (The Ship that Changed the World) account of a disaster that prolonged the Great War by two years and laid the groundwork for the collapse of the czarist and Ottoman empires. The plan to take the Dardanelles strait was Churchillian in its conception: the boldest strategic concept of WWI, designed to simultaneously outflank a deadlocked Western Front and open a supply route to Russia. Its promise was thwarted by incompetent execution—beginning with Churchill's insistence on the navy forcing the Dardanelles alone, without ground troop support. The Royal Navy's predictable inability to push its battleships past the guns and minefields defending the Dardanelles forts in March 1915 followed the Allies' failure to intercept the German cruisers Goeben and Breslau before they reached Turkish waters and triggered the German-Ottoman alliance. An improvised land campaign undertaken with poorly trained troops whose senior commanders set unsurpassed standards of ineptitude ensued. General readers will find enlightening this extended demonstration of the contributions command can make to catastrophe. (July 14)
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