Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Silver State Dreadnought

There are several types of history books about ships. There are the technical histories, where the book details the reasons why a particular ship or class of ships was built, and then explains the design and building processes that were undertaken to turn the initial idea into reality. There are operational histories, which detail where a ship served during its career, usually (but not exclusively) concentrating upon the battles and campaigns it may have taken part in. And then there are the social histories, which tend to concentrate more on the people who served in a ship and how their lives were affected by that service.

SILVER STATE DREADNOUGHT: THE REMARKABLE STORY OF BATTLESHIP NEVADA combines elements of all three of these types of books about a ship, and does so in a very informative and extremely readable style. As one reads it, it soon becomes very obvious that this is a labour of love that could only have been written by someone who has done considerable research, and whose knowledge of the story of the USS Nevada - the first of the US Navy's super-dreadnoughts – is second to none.

One particular aspect of this book made it stand out for me ... everything was contextualised. For example, when Nevada was modernised in the late 1920s, it was done within the limits of the Washington Naval Treaty. Rather than just leave matters like that, the author explains in a clear and succinct manner the background to the treaty and why the US Navy decided to rebuild and modernise ships that were already well over ten years old. Likewise, the impact of the growing tension with Japan is covered by looking at the various Fleet Problems that took place in the run up to the outbreak of the Second World War.

When I had finished reading this book, I came away with a much better understanding of not just the life and story of one particular warship, but also of the US Navy during the early part of the twentieth century. It is a book that should appeal to a wide range of readers, from the specialist to the novice, and I thoroughly recommend it.

The book is 320 pages long, has fifteen chapters ...
  1. Building a Better Battleship
  2. Trials at Sea
  3. The Great War
  4. Battleship Diplomacy
  5. The Great Cruise
  6. Rebirth
  7. Fleet Problems
  8. Oranges and Chrysanthemums
  9. Pearl Harbour
  10. Back in the Fight
  11. The Atlantic: D-Day and Southern France
  12. The Pacific: Iwo Jima
  13. The Pacific: Okinawa
  14. Operation Crossroads
  15. Death of a Warrior
... and numerous previously unpublished black and white photographs..

SILVER STATE DREADNOUGHT: THE REMARKABLE STORY OF BATTLESHIP NEVADA was written by Stephen M Younger and published in 2018 by the Naval Institute Press (ISBN 978 1 68247 289 7).


  1. Sounds very interesting (something for the Christmas wishlist).

    I'm going to ask a nosy question: how did you get hold of this book? Waterstone's says "coming soon" and Amazon UK "30 November" so it sounds like you're getting it direct from the Naval Institute Press but does this mean it has to ship from the USA? Their current 50% off and free shipping offer sounds great but I somehow doubt it includes UK delivery.

    1. Mike Hall,

      The book was sent to me by the Naval Institute Press to review. In the past I've written reviews of books published by the NIP, and they contacted me to ask me to review this book. I agreed on condition that they accept that I would write an honest review. They were happy to do so, and the book was delivered on 15th November.

      I thought that the book was a nice balance between technical detail, operational history, and human interest. It also explained how and why the Nevada managed to get underway during the Pearl Harbour attack and why she was rebuilt rather than being scrapped.

      All the best,


    2. I have to say that the battleship still holds a mesmeric appeal to me .. even though the Air War dominated the Pacific Theater - the supreme "Super Dreadnoughts" fighting in effect the wrong war for them! Nice book .. you have given me the urge to dig out my Navwar fleets ;)

    3. Geordie an Exiled FoG,

      The infinite variety of ships that were classified as battleships from the first ironclads to HMS Vanguard have a much greater appeal to me than any other type of warship ... and one day I’d love to refight the Pacific War as envisaged by Hector Bywater.

      All the best,



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