All empires, it seems, decline and fall, often disgracefully. The one exception is the British Empire, which faded away in a quite civil manner by comparison with the usual way these entities collapse.
It happened during the twentieth century, largely on the back of two world wars that effectively bankrupted Britain. By 1945 – when she was spending half her gross national product on war, leading economists such as John Maynard Keynes were warning that Britain was right on the edge. Afterwards she was propped up by US loans and then by aid via the Marshal Plan, which was otherwise designed to support a devastated Europe against Soviet aggression. And the Empire did, indeed, crumble away. Its character had already been changing; now it faded.
One casualty of the shift was the Royal Navy. I’ve written this short book – the technical term, I think, is ‘monograph’ – to describe exactly how the Royal Navy was affected by the whole thing, using Britain’s last generation of battleships as a kind of case study.
It’s been under way for a while. And here it is. The thing was that even in the 1930s, as the British economy staggered through the depression, the Admiralty thought they could continue building the huge and expensive battleships that had been the mainstay of British naval power for decades. They couldn’t, but this was not through want of trying. And the ships that they did build were best described as ingenious. Their story is very much the story of defiance against the decline of British economic and industrial power.
The cover has a very clean look – understated, I think is the term. I like it.
Check it out. On Kindle now – and in paperback in a little while, I believe.
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2018