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Published by Seaforth Publishing. ISBN 9781848321335
For those of us whose grasp of French ended with our high school education, accessibility to quality English language source material on the French Navy and it vessels has been somewhat limited. However I’m happy to report that things have been improving and changing over the past few yrs, and in no small way due too the fantastic work undertaken by John Jordan & Seaforth Publishing. If your familiar with Jordans earlier work with Robert Dumas French Battleships 1922-1956 by the same publisher, you know your getting another tour de force piece of publishing, though this time with Jean Moulin as Jordan’s co-author.
The book is handily split into two distinct parts which could easily stand as separate publications in there own right, such is the quality therein. Part 1 (which has 8 chapters and just shy of 140 pages) is the Technical section where the various design philosophies and class characteristics are explained, interrogated and presented. These various technical facets are described & supported by countless line drawings and numerous B/W photographs. The narrative detail is truly overwhelming, as seemingly not even the most mundane piece of machinery or component isn't worthy of few lines or the odd drawing to illustrate it. Part 2 (which has some 4 chapters of around 64 pages) deals with the cruisers historical footprint (or should that be bow wave!) which shows us there proposed function, tactics, organisation, infrastructure and most importantly there actual combat duties. There are fewer line drawings in this part but this is offset by more maps and other visual aids to help give context to the associated narrative.
Sandwiched between these two parts are some truly emotive colour plates of the various cruisers by the French naval veteran and artist Surgeon General Jean Blade. His 16 watercolours add to the overall quality of this publication.
French Cruisers 1922-1956 is a must have for any serious naval historian of this period and also provides a fantastic reference book for those in the modelling fraternity. This book will remain at the pinnacle of our understanding & knowledge of the subject matter in English for decades to come.