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The Rules of the Game: Jutland and British Naval Command
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The Rules of the Game: Jutland and British Naval Command

4.45  ·  Rating details ·  218 ratings  ·  22 reviews
At the Battle of Jutland eighty years ago in May 1916, 250 warships of the two most powerful fleets in the world clashed in an encounter which might potentially have reshaped forever the political map of Europe and the world beyond. In the event, though one in ten of the ships went to the bottom, and 9,000 men died, its consequences were less spectacular. The British Grand ...more
Paperback, 708 pages
Published February 21st 2013 by US Naval Institute Press (first published January 1st 1996)
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4.45  · 
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 ·  218 ratings  ·  22 reviews

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Philip Allan
Mar 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
One of the best accounts I have read that truly explains why the Battle of Jutland unfolded as it did. It covers all the technical and human aspects of the action, as good military history should, but then adds a whole new dimension. Gilbert plunges into the backgrounds of the main protagonists and the morays of the Victorian navy to come at the root causes of why they acted as they did. We are all prisoners of our pasts, great leaders as much as the rest of us. All military history should be do ...more
Aug 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: naval-history

This is an excellent book. It provides both a very well resesrched account of the battle itself (no mean feat given many uncertainties in who was exactly where when) but, even more importantly, also gives an outstandingly broad background background, especially on the British side, to the training, doctrine and personalities of the fleets and their commanders that led, over a period of many decades to the hazy May afternoon in the North Sea, when the Royal Navy missed their opportunity to inflic
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Andrew Gordon’s book is a study of the battle of Jutland that seeks to explain the outcome of the battle through the unusual perspective of the organizational culture of the Royal Navy. The problem can be described as this: how did a force that took such pride in the fighting heritage of Horatio Nelson fail to demonstrate such aggressiveness when facing the German High Seas Fleet on May 31, 1916? To answer this, Gordon charts two generations of British naval command, reaching back into the Victo ...more
May 01, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a good book on British naval cuture and its impact on its battle command at the battle of Jutland. At times it was very technical and detailed, but overall it was a very good book. I read it at a time where I could apply it to a particular style of centralized command in CSTC-A. Some of the similarities were quite interesting. It is a good book to lead into a discussion on what is the nature of the future war you intend to fight and what is the best form of a battle command to fight tha ...more
Mar 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bought this upon publication when doing research upon the Battle of Jutland for a historical novel about the battle. I bought anything and everything on the battle and even consulted memoirs and other public papers. This is, without doubt, the best book on the subject. The core is the way that the British naval mindset affected everything including the battle. Beattie was over reckless and Jellicoe over cautious. Saying that, it must be remembered that after the battle the British fleet were rea ...more
Steve Switzer
Jul 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: naval, ww1
Interesting book about jutland.I always have beatty pegged as the bad guy, a bit flash beau sabruer of the seas leading his battlecruisers into a trap etc...
This book looks at thing in the longer view.. starts with the battle then after the initial clash looks into the background to just why the royal navy failed to destroy the highs seas fleet.
The middle of the book is about the struggle between rule breakers and rule makers ... and the peace time rule makers one to the RNs detriment. I did str
Martin Samuels
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military
First published in 1996, Andrew Gordon's book greatly deserves it recent reissue. Many books have considered aspects of military leadership, but this is one of the very few to explore the culture of command and to address the practical implications.

In this weighty study, Gordon begins with an account of the tensions and interchanges between Jellicoe, commander of the British Grand Fleet since 1914, and Beatty, commander of the Battle Cruiser Fleet sub-element of the Grand Fleet. Central to this
C. Patrick
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a remarkable work of scholarship, an historical forensics analysis for why the Royal Navy Grand Fleet underperformed at Jutland against the German High Fleet. The role of initiative one hundred years earlier the author argues was allowed to atrophy over a long period of relatively unchallenged peace and technological advances. The lessons should be just as relevant in today’s modern navies as we seek to balance what technological marvels have done to extend the commander’s range of deci ...more
Porter Broyles

This isn't my type of history, it was too focused on sequences and chains of events.

The book was interesting and there were parts that I loved, but I borrowed this via inter library loan and couldn't muster the energy to put it ahead of others books I'm working on.

If you like battles and analysis of what went won't, then this is the book for you.

The book probably deserves more than 2 stars, but for me that's all I could give it.
Jurgen Rose
May 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quite a slog, an incredibly thorough and quite exhausting account of the battle of Jutland and the intricacies of Naval command in the RN and culminating in an invaluable final chapter that provides a myriad of lessons that every military leader should be familiar with. For any student of manuever warfare tactics this is an important textbook.
Joseph Fuller
Aug 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant history of the Royal Navy as an institution. A hidden gem for students of large institutions, how self-satisfaction and introspection can invite disaster.
Jared Bruh
One of my favorites. A story excellent told with great strategic analysis.
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vast reading. The book gives an insight on the command and control mentality that lead to the decisions taken during the Battle of jutland and how it developed over a time span that goes from Trafalgar to WW1.
Dec 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Oh, what can I say - this book turns upside down all other histories of Jutland with a reasoned analysis of why the British Navy fought as it did on that day in 1916. As Gordon shows, the 1916 fighting technique can be laid back to a disaster during peace time maneuvers in 1893 (23 years earlier). And such technique prevented the larger fleet advantage that the British had from decisively defeating the German High Seas Fleet.

The book is one of those rare historical books not solely told from th
Jul 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was truly groundbreaking when originally published in 1997. It went beyond the usual analysis of the Battle of Jutland to examine the behaviours of British commanding officers. The author focuses on what was hampering their decision making ability during that period. The Navy had strategic and tactical advantages but many of its leaders were not ready to fight a modern war after a century of peace. The Navy showed an inability to integrate command and control tools, such as the wireles ...more
Mar 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, history
An absolutely excellent analysis of Jutland and why it turned out the way it did. The author goes into great detail, both about the events of the battle as well as the institutional cultural background of the late 19th-early 20th Royal Navy. However the book is clearly meant for those who have a basic idea of the First World War and the Battle of Jutland as the author is less interested in general description and explanation than in specific pieces of analysis.
Jan 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. While, in theory it covered the Battle of Jutland, in reality, it covered a lot of history about how the Royal Navy fought the battle. While it drags in a few places, I think it does a good job of describing how the RN put way too much interest on signals verses all the other aspects of battle.
Mar 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting but I think the author missed something by not analyzing the impact of classism within the Victorian navy and the military as a whole and only focusing on the problem of Royal patronage. Probably as former military that subject was outside his expertise.
Oct 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military-history
Really good. First as a very detailed look into the battle, then as an analysis of the culture of the Grand Fleet's high command.

The middle third dragged a bit, although its importance was obvious.
Jul 22, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Meticulously researched study of not only the Battle of Jutland itself but also a pretty fair general history of the British Navy from Tralfalgar to Jutland. Obviously written by a Naval officer, this is sort of work that military history should be and so seldom is. First rate.
Aug 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book, read the "blinding glimpses of the obvious" in chapter 25 as the lessons most easily translate to the issues which will face navies in 21st century war. Over dependence on the net may leave us blind.
Peter Marsh
Aug 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: paperback
Feel free to read every other book on the Battle of Jutland but then make sure you read this. If you do it the other way around, you will probably not feel the need to read any others on the subject. This is my favourite and most read non-fiction book.
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Andrew Gordon is a Reader in the Defence Studies Department at King's College London, where he is the Maritime Historian. His first degree was a BSc Econ (Hons) in International Politics at Aberystwyth College, University of Wales. His second was a PhD in War Studies at King's College, University of London.
“(28) “Doctrine draws on the lessons of history” 1 likes
“At a time of deep naval peace, when social connections were a means to the top, when royal yachts brought career advantage, and when officers had to use whatever leverage they could to stand out from the crowd – when obedience and paintwork, pomp and circumstance, were what made the Fleet tick – it was a simple matter for the Craft to step onto the quarterdecks of the Royal Navy’s flagships. And there it found an ample supply of recruits.” 0 likes
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