"Luxury Fleet" (the phrase was Winston Churchill's) is the first history of the Imperial German Navy from 1888 to 1918. After tracing the historical background to German naval ambitions, the first two sections of the book analyze Admiral Tirpitz's program of building a battle fleet strong enough to engage the Royal Navy in the North Sea. Professor Herwig shows that fleet as a force that would complement the most efficient army in Europe and describes the warships that were built, and the attitudes of the officer corps and men. The last section of the book considers the tactical deployment of the German fleet during the First World War, both in home waters and overseas, and it ends, appropriately perhaps, with the scuttling of the German fleet in Scapa Flow in 1919.
Holger H. Herwig is professor of history at Vanderbilt University.