10 SEPTEMBER 1948, Page 28

The Navy of Britain. By Michael Lewis. (Allen & Unwin.

30s.) Jr is difficult to write a dull book about Britain's achievements at sea. In spite of the gravest mistakes and misdemeanours, it is essentially a " success story," robust, colourful, packed with action and excitement. Can an author go wrong ? Mr. Lewis (Professor of History at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich) has certainly not done so, although he has eschewed the easy course of merely retelling the old,, old stories. He prefers a different approach ; excludes deliberately the political and strategic aspects of sea-power ; takes for granted Britain's need of a naval force ; and is concerned only to show how that need was met. Treating the Navy as an institution composed of ships, officers, men and an administering authority, he records separately the development of each from early days to the present. What, at various times, did Britain possess in the way of ships, men and management, and how did she come to possess them, are the questions he asks and answers? Finally, he describes how fleet actions were fought and the influence of weapons upon tactics. The ground to be covered is vast, but Mr. Lewis has boldly seized its main features and marshalled them into a reasoned and satisfactory account within the limits of a single stout and well- illustrated volume.