Christopher M. Bell. Churchill and Sea Power. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. I'm on record as pledging to never write a book about Winston Churchill, because there seems to be another new one out every time I go to a bookshop and very few of them can have anything new or even interesting to say about the man. And yet there are exceptions, and this is one of them: his involvement with, interest in and affection for the Royal Navy is well-known but little-studied. Churchill and Airpower, anyone?

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

3 thoughts on “Acquisitions

  1. I have a colleague who is due to start his PhD in September and this is the subject that he was contemplating on doing the last time we talked. It would seem to be an opportune subject given that Orange's book on 'Churchill and his Airmen' does not adequately deal with his thinking on air power but on the relationship. At best it is a collection of vignette's from his biographies put together.

  2. Much as I agree that we don't need more Churchilling, I'd also agree there's a good deal of interesting questions re- Churchill and airmen and aviation (theory, policy) - which is a remarkably under-explored arena. And as well as the obvious stuff, the inter-war period would be interesting, too.

    Thought Bell's blog on the mechanics of the publishing process was very interesting and honest.

  3. Post author

    It's easy to check off a list of Churchill's aviation connections: just off the top of my head, he was one of the earliest British ministers to fly (and I'm pretty sure the first to take flying lessons); as First Lord of the Admiralty he oversaw the creation and early operations of the RNAS; as Munitions Minister he wrote a memorandum undermining nascent knock-out blow theories; as War and Air Minister he was in charge when the RAF was wound back and introduced the Ten Year Rule; as Colonial Minister he pushed air control; in the 1930s he attacked Baldwin over air parity by way of the knock-out blow and the commercial bomber, and thereby wangled his way onto the CID's air defence subcommittee; in 1940 he initiated strategic bombing of Germany and of course there was the Battle of Britain and the Blitz; in 1945 there was his reaction to Dresden; one might add air control operations against the Mau Mau during his second government. If you extend the brief to include nuclear weapons there's his possible 1924 prediction of an atomic explosive, Britain's involvement in the Manhattan Project and Britain's independent hydrogen bomb project which began in his second government. And that's all without mentioning the Sheerness Incident! So there's no shortage of material for a book, or a PhD.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *