A couple of important books have comes through for review recently…

Harry Dickinson, Wisdom and War: The Royal College Greenwich, 1873-1998 (Franham: Ashgate, 2013)

An important history of Greenwich and the role it has played the provision of Provisional Military Education for the Royal Navy since its opening in 1873 through to its closure in 1998 when the staff college element merged with those of the other services into the Joint Services Command and Staff College. For my thesis the two most important elements of this books are its discussion of the Senior Officer War Course and the RN Staff College that were based at Greenwich in the inter-war period. Several future senior RAF officers went to Greenwich such as Marshals of the Royal Air Force Viscount Portal and Lord Tedder. Additionally, for a time Greenwich provided training for 2nd Lieutenants in the RAF and earned the moniker RAF Greenwich.

Maryam Philpott, Air and Sea Power in World War I: Combat and Experience in the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Navy (London: I.B. Tauris, 2013)

I have been waiting for this book for a while now in the hope that it provides some very interesting thinking behind reasons for joining the services and their experience. While I still hope their are some interesting ideas I am already worried by the rigour present in the work. I will expand on this more in the review but just a couple of examples here will suffice. First, the official history of the RAF in the First World War is described as a veterans account that completely decontextualizes what it was about. Also, Philpott insists on describing Arthur Marder as the Royal Navy’s official historian. Firstly, in Britain there is no such thing as an official historian but rather a historian working on the official history. Second, the official history of the Royal Navy in the First World War was written by Julian Corbett, who Philpott does not cite in her bibliography. I fear this book will end up as a bit of a curates egg but will expand further in my review.


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