The Influence of History upon Sea Power: The Royal Navy in the Second World War

  • Correlli Barnett


It is the purpose of this paper to capsize Admiral A. T. Mahan. He published his thesis, The Influence of Sea Power upon History 1660–1783, at what appeared at the time to be the very apogee of British world power in the last decade of the nineteenth century, when the bounds of the British Empire had reached their widest ever (with the exception of the post-1919 mandates, not properly part of the Empire, and the former German East Africa, also a post-1918 acquisition); when Britain was the world’s greatest creditor nation, indeed the financial centre of a world-trading economy in which she enjoyed by far the biggest share; when British industrial production remained second only to that of the United States as a percentage of the world total; and when the Royal Navy by its size and prestige rendered Britain overwhelmingly the world’s greatest sea power.


Merchant Shipping British Empire British Industry German Army Western Front 
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  1. 11.
    C. B. A. Behrens, Merchant Shipping and the Demands of War (London, HMSO 1955), p. 363.Google Scholar

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© Correlli Barnett 1996

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  • Correlli Barnett

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