Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Jacky Fisher's Visage

Nicholas Lambert's Sir John Fisher's Naval Revolution (1999), revises the historical consensus on Sir John Fisher's reorganization of the British Navy in the years leading up to the Great War. In contrast to the historiography, Fisher is portrayed as favouring flotilla defense for the home waters made up of submarines and torpedo boats, championing submarines and battlecruisers as opposed to battleships, and still hoping to maintain imperial defence. Radical Jack is shown to champion the battleship in order to leverage the technological misunderstandings of the cabinet and public to lobby for increased naval spending, and not due to his preference for the battleship itself. The dreadnought revolution is portrayed as a product of financial concerns instead of the German naval threat. Technology in the form of the torpedo, submarine, and side-armoured cruisers were hoped to allow the navy to do more with less.

Lambert noted that Jan Morris' investigation of Fisher's reputation elicited a wide range of descriptors.  Morris wrote, "Fisher, it seemed, was a Great Englishman, a disgrace to his uniform, a manipulator, a hobgoblin, a damned Socialist, a crook, a paragon of kindness, a parvenu, a cad, a genius, a fraud, a delight. Only one thing all were agreed upon: he had a marvellous face."

Admiral John Fisher, Handsome Chap.

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