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Book Review, NRJ 67.2

February 11, 2023 5:02 PM | PAUL R MITCHELL (Administrator)

Battle in the Baltic: The Royal Navy and the Fight to Save Estonia & Latvia 1918-20

Steve R. Dunn

On November 11th, 1918, World War I had drawn to a close. The armistice was signed at Le Francport between the Allies and Germany, thus ending the Great War. However, this was not the end of the war for some. In December of 1918, the Royal Navy was sent on a mission to the Baltic for another two years of fighting. This mission was to protect Baltic states’ independence from the Bolsheviks invaders trying to claim this territory, German proxies trying to keep a unified eastern German front, and the White Russian forces trying to rebuild the Russian empire. The continuous battles fought by the Royal Navy in the Baltics are hardly discussed when examining World War I naval history.

Adding to his growing scholarship on the Royal Navy's involvement in World War I. Steve R. Dunn’s Battle in the Baltic: The Royal Navy and the Fight to Save Estonia & Latvia 1918-20 successfully brings this relatively unknown history to the forefront. What makes Dunn successful is the way he structures the book. Battle in the Baltic is broken down into three distinct parts.

The first part of the book gives readers unfamiliar with the histories of the Baltic and the Russian involvement a quick yet heavily detailed history surrounding the region during the first world war. Dunn goes in-depth into the political, military, and social situations within the Baltic region before the involvement of the Royal Navy. This in-depth analysis gives the reader an understanding of the working parts of the region and wonderfully sets up the second part of the book with the deployment of the Royal Navy.

Battle of the Baltic's second part covers the Royal Navy’s involvement from deployment to each failed and victorious battle. Besides covering the battles themselves, Dunn does an exceptional job weaving the political decisions that impacted the naval forces and the consequences these decisions had. Concluding with his third part, Dunn does an excellent job in this final part of examining each failure and successful battle for the Royal Navy and the future of the naval leadership. Finally, Dunn finishes the book by giving the reader insight into the Baltic states' celebrations and honors of the Royal Navy's involvement.

How Dunn sets up his narrative for an enjoyable and educational read is his writing approach. Dunn organizes his narrative chronologically and does not stray from this style. Dunn's ability to use a chronological approach is due to his masterful usage of sources. Though he does use a majority of primary British sources, he does involve primary sources from the Baltic states and Russia, which gives him a broader perspective of scholarship instead of staying with the one-sided view of the British. For any researcher looking into his sources, Dunn's bibliography is neatly organized by category, giving future researchers an easy starting point.

Battle in the Baltic is a welcomed addition to scholarship on the Royal Navy during World War I, and Dunn’s book uncovers some lesser-known history about the Royal Navy. This reviewer recommends this book to anyone interested in naval warfare during World War I and the Royal Navy. However, what sets Dunn apart is that this book is written to appeal to academics and those with just a general interest in maritime warfare. Plus, bringing a lesser-known naval history to light, Dunn masterfully pays homage to those that lost their lives.

  • Barnsley: Seaforth Publishing, 2020
  • Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2020
  • 6-1/2” x 9-1/2”, hardcover, 304 pages
  • Photographs, maps, notes, bibliography, index. $38.95
  • ISBN: 9781526742735

Reviewed by: Daniel Engelgau, University of West Florida

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