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Book Review, NRJ 62.4

November 15, 2017 12:00 PM | David Eddy (Administrator)

A Tale of Two Navies: Geopolitics, Technology, and Strategy in the United States Navy and the Royal Navy, 1960-2015

Anthony R. Wells

Anthony R. Wells’s A Tale of Two Navies: Geopolitics, Technology, and Strategy in the United States Navy and the Royal Navy, 1960-2015 is an intriguing work that discusses the relationship between the United States Navy and the Royal Navy. He covers all aspects of this strategic relationship, focusing on several specific events including the emergence of the Soviet Navy, the Walker Spy Ring, and the Falklands Campaign of 1982. He also discusses the roles that Intelligence played in creating and furthering this relationship. Wells states that he hopes readers form their own ideas of events that transpired over this fifty-five year course of history and the ways that those events will shape the naval strategy of the future. The book is not a strict chronology, but an overview of themes and naval interactions.

Wells’s discussion includes all aspects of the developments in technology and intelligence, the post-World War II political shifts that caused restructuring of the military, and global security issues from 1960 to 2015. He begins with an examination of the organizational changes in the navies of both nations post-World War II. While there were many changes, the United States Navy and the Royal Navy remained close, building on existing agreements and security arrangements. The author also offers his interpretation of naval strategy in the nuclear era, stressing that the Cold War remained cold due, in large part, to naval leadership of the time.

Throughout the book, Wells challenges his reader to consider that events of the past could parallel future global military events. For example, the rise of a Chinese navy easily equates to the rise of the Soviet Navy post-World War II. Lessons can be learned from this regarding strategy and policy.

Wells provides an engaging discussion on the strategic relationship between the United States Navy and the Royal Navy. His work is backed with an extensive bibliography, including many primary sources. This provides an excellent and useful bibliography for those interested in naval history of the Cold War period. A Tale of Two Navies is a true work of academic history, engaging readers and forcing them to think for themselves. His own service for both British and American Intelligence gives him a unique perspective on this period in history, as well as on the relationship between the two countries. 

Overall, Wells provides an extremely well-written and researched book on his chosen topic. His discussion is convincing and concise, and his style of writing is smooth and understandable. Additionally, the book includes an excellent section of source notes bound together by the personal experiences of the author. Wells’s work is a valuable discussion on naval partnership and strategy in the modern period.

  •  Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2017
  • 6-1/2” x 9-1/2”, hardcover, xi + 250 pages
  • Photographs, table, notes, bibliography, index. $35.00
  • ISBN: 9781682471203

Reviewed by Annie Wright, East Carolina University

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