Amphibious Warfare: Strategy & Tactics from Gallipoli to Iraq
Ian Speller and Christopher Tuck
Amphibious warfare is a concept utilized throughout history from ancient Egypt to the present day and employed by cultures all over the world, from the Vikings to the Chinese in the fifteenth century to both the Japanese and American forces in World War II. It also represents one of the most complicated types of warfare, requiring immense planning and cooperation between not only naval forces, but also military forces more associated with land-based warfare and air forces. Speller and Tuck take the complexity of amphibious warfare and explain it very clearly for even casual readers to understand.
The authors offer valuable insight into the development of an amphibious operation from planning to execution using historical case studies from both World Wars, the Korean War and more modern conflicts such as the Falklands and the Gulf wars. While the introduction gives an overview of the history and different types of amphibious operations, the rest of the book’s structure follows the planning process, each chapter dedicated to a specific stage in the execution of an amphibious assault. This is extremely useful, as in each chapter, the former stages are often referred to. This in effect offers the reader to see each layer of amphibious warfare in a chronological time frame as well as the different elements of an assault from sea, land, and air forces. The authors also explain each concept clearly and concisely. The book also makes great use of campaign maps and photographs, which help visually explain concepts they introduce. Furthermore, the section of color illustrations of amphibious vehicles and vessels offers a look at different types from World War II, the Cold War, and modern day.
Another strength of the book is the way the authors use their case studies to illustrate the concepts they introduce. With each case study, the authors focus on the particular concepts they explain in the chapter. In this way, readers can see the practical use of each concept. The authors do not focus on only western nations. They include discussions of Japan and its role in World War II and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Similarly, they do not focus on just victorious operations. They give details of failures or near failures. This offers the reader a balanced view of different levels of war, from low-intensity to high-intensity conflicts and major complications in amphibious warfare during planning or execution.
The major problem with the book is the lack of citations or a bibliography. The authors attempt to mitigate this problem by adding a “Further Reading” section; nevertheless, readers who wish to see directly where the authors got their information from will be lost. As such, the book offers a very structured and easy to read introduction to the concept of amphibious warfare. Even a student new to learning about naval operations will find the text understandable. However, without citations and a bibliography, using the book as a stepping stone to further research may prove difficult. Even so, as an introductory book, it is extremely useful in gaining an understanding of modern amphibious strategy and tactics.
- London: Amber Books, 2014
- 7-1/2” x 10”, hardcover, 176 pages
- Illustrations, maps, bibliography, index. $34.95
- ISBN: 9781782741404
- Distributed in the United States by Casemate Publishers, Havertown, Pennsylvania
Reviewed by Adam K. Parker, East Carolina University