Saturday, 11 July 2009

“The Wolf”, Richard Guilliatt and Peter Hohnen

A very brief one this time - as I'm currently doing a full review of this for Intelligence and National Security, but given the extent to which this is currently being pushed in the UK's airports some initial thoughts might be of interest.

Telling the story of the German warship Wolf's long raiding cruise between late 1916 and early 1918 "The Wolf" is unashamedly populist and while this makes it possible to question it academically the publishers almost certainly took the decision to make this a deliberately accessible book, and on a summer afternoon with competition for attention this is no bad thing.

The actions of the Wolf in the later part of the First World War were to all intents and purposes inconsequential to the ultimate outcome of the war, but this does not alter the fascinating human story of the ship, its crew, and its victims, as well as the wider impact of World War I on Australasia in the later part of the conflict told by Guilliat and Hohnen. It's also a lovely opportunity to go into a little known aspect of Great War naval history - while the Emden and the rest of Graf Spee's raiders have had their time in the sun, the later raiders are largely forgotten. It's easy to be sceptical about airport history, but in this case the result is really rather pleasing.

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