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- September 2001 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Title: Southern Trident: Strategy, History and the Rise of Australian Naval Power Publisher: Allen and Unwin
The general reader should not be deterred by the sub-title which implies it is of interest only to specialised historians. It is a fascinating compendium of papers, which were, in the main, delivered at the inaugural King-Hall Conference in July 1999. In effect, quoting from the dust jacket, the contributors show how the creation of the Australian Navy was no simple display of nationalism, but rather the culmination of various complex and often revolutionary developments in such areas as politics, diplomacy, strategy, economic relations and technology in the Asia-Pacific region and far beyond.
The man for whom the conference is named, Admiral Sir George King-Hall, was the last British commander of the Australia Station (1911-1913). As a popular and strident supporter of an independent Australian navy, he was instrumental in protecting its early development from undue pressure by political and other agencies.
Part one of the book addresses concepts and approaches to maritime strategy in six papers, the first providing an absorbing backdrop for discussion and thematic development.
The second part, comprising thirteen papers addressed perspectives on Imperial and Australian naval defence, some with direct relevance to current international issues. Each paper invites interest and opens up new paths of knowledge in areas not normally visited. In addition to maps and tables there are forty five illustrations of rare interest and clarity.
The chapter notes, which extend to fifty-four pages, demonstrate the quality of the contributors as well as providing sources for further research. The notes on the contributors are a beneficial and attractive feature. Overall this is a work of great significance and deserves to be widely read.
The Seapower Centre under Captain James Goldrick, and the joint editors, Dr John Reeve and Dr David Stevens deserve to be warmly commended on their sterling efforts.
[Reviewer: John Snow]