“This magnificent book reinforces Norman Friedman's unparalleled reputation as a peerless author of maritime topics.”—Australian Naval Institute Gradually evolving from the masted steam frigates of the mid-nineteenth century, the first modern cruiser is not easy to define—but for the sake of this book, historian Norman Friedman takes as a starting point Iris and Mercury of 1875. They were the Royal Navy’s first steel-built warships; were designed primarily to be steamed rather than sailed; and formed the basis of a line of succeeding cruiser classes. The story progresses with the last armored cruisers, which were succeeded by the first battlecruisers (originally called armored cruisers), and with the last Third Class Cruisers (Topaze class), all conceived before 1906. While dovetailing precisely with the author's previous book on British cruisers, this one also includes the wartime experience of the earlier ships. The two central themes are cruisers for the fleet and cruisers for overseas operations, including (but not limited to) trade protection. The distant-waters aspect covers the belted cruisers, which were nearly capital ships, intended to deal with foreign second-class battleships in the Far East. The main enemies contemplated during this period were France and Russia, and the book includes British assessments of their strength and intentions, with judgments as to how accurate those assessments were. Deeply researched, original in its analysis, and full of striking insights, this is another major contribution by Norman Friedman to the history of British warships.
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