Tirpitz and the Imperial German Navy

Tirpitz and the Imperial German Navy

Patrick J. Kelly
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 05/03/2011
Format: Hardback 26 b&w illus., 4 maps
ISBN: 978-0-253-35593-5
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Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz (1849–1930) was the principal force behind the rise of the German Imperial Navy prior to World War I, challenging Great Britain’s command of the seas. As State Secretary of the Imperial Naval Office from 1897 to 1916, Tirpitz wielded great power and influence over the national agenda during that crucial period. By the time he had risen to high office, Tirpitz was well equipped to use his position as a platform from which to dominate German defense policy. Though he was cool to the potential of the U-boat, he enthusiastically supported a torpedo boat branch of the navy and began an ambitious building program for battleships and battle cruisers. Based on exhaustive archival research, including new material from family papers, Tirpitz and the Imperial German Navy is the first extended study in English of this germinal figure in the growth of the modern navy.

Author Bio

Patrick J. Kelly is Professor of History at Adelphi University.


“This study of the principal force behind the rise of the German Imperial Navy examines one Grand Admiral's great power and influence during a crucial period before WWI.”

“Beyond its great interest for naval and military historians regardless of specialization, this work will be required reading for any . . . historian of the Second Reich and the interwar period . . . and for those fascinated by the eternal query, 'Who or what caused the outbreak of the First World War?'”
 — Eric C. Rust, author of Naval Officers Under Hitler: The Story of Crew 34

“As both a definitive biography and detailed evaluation of the historiography of this period, Kelly has produced a compelling portrait of Tirpitz that balances the views of those scholars who have overestimated Tirpitz’s rationality in political, social and military affairs with those who underestimated his opportunism.”
 — Keith Bird, author of Erich Raeder: Admiral of the Third Reich

“Patrick Kelly has written the first major scholarly biography of Tirpitz in English, based on detailed knowledge of vast archival material and an extensive historical literature. With great precision, Kelly’s narrative integrates Tirpitz’s naval and political careers with broader developments within the German Empire and the Weimar Republic. He also treats in detail the international politics of Wilhelmine arms policy, the naval race with Britain, and the ensuing First World War. This book can be thoroughly recommended to students of both German and naval history.”
 — Rolf Hobson, author of Imperialism at Sea: Naval Strategic Thought, the Ideology of Sea Power, and the Tirpitz Pl

“The author does a masterful job of analyzing Tirpitz' political skills, his mastery of technology and change, as well as the grave weaknesses of the dysfunctional political system of a federal Germany headed by a weak and vacillating Emperor and riven by unbridgeable political divisions. Highly recommended. Summer 2011”
 — Camaraderie

“How, as a naval officer, [Tirpitz] . . . became probably the second most effective politician in the history of Imperial Germany is a fascinating story. It is well told in this large, comprehensive and extensively researched book. ”
 — Ausmarine

“Kelly's fascinating political biography of Alfred von Tirpitz joins the large historiography on German naval policy prior to WWI. . . . Recommended.”
 — Choice

“Although this is a scholarly biography, it is in everyway quite readable. Backed by solid research, using untapped and newly available documents and family letters, Kelly has produced a clear picture of one of the major causes of World War I.”
 — thepastinreview.weebly.com

“Kelly's book is a great achievement. Well written and based on new sources, his biography of Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz allows the reader deep insights into the life of a man who played a very important role at the turn of the last century and who shaped German policy in a way few others did. ”
 — gh.oxfordjournals.org

“Kelly's book is a great achievement. Well written and based on new sources, his biography of Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz allows the reader deep insights into the life of a man who played a very important role at the turn of the last century and who, like almost nobody else, shaped German policy. ”
 — International Journal of Maritime History

“Patrick Kelly has produced a first-rate biography of this grand admiral who is better known for his political skills than his naval ones. ”
 — U.S. Naval Insitute Proceedings

“This is an invaluable reference work on Tirpitz, the Imperial German Navy, and on politics in Wilhelmine Germany. ”
 — The Northern Mariner

“[This] book presents a balanced, convincing picture of Tirpitz as naval officer and bureaucratic politician, based on a thorough examination of the relevant archival sources. It is a distinguished contribution to the historiography of imperial Germany.”
 — Journal of Modern History

“An invaluable addition to military biography shelves, Tirpitz and the Imperial German Navy is especially recommended for college library collections. August 2011”
 — Midwest Book Review

“[T]he book is stellar. It is based on decades of research in federal, regional, and private archives and takes into account a flood of scholarship on Tirpitz and the fleet. Well written and sensibly organized, the book allows English-language readers their first in-depth look at one of the men who helped shape the 20th century. October 2011”
 — Naval History

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Table of Contents


1. Introduction
2. Tirpitz's Early Life
3. The Aspirant, 1865<N>1870
4. The Young Officer, 1870<N>1877: A Taste of War
5. The Creation of the German Torpedo Arm, 1877<N>1889
6. Interim, 1889<N>1891
7. Oberkommando der Marine, 1892<N>1895
8. On the Verge of Power, 1895<N>1897
9. Tirpitz Ascendant, 1897<N>1898
10. The Second Navy Law, 1899<N>1900
11. The "Quiet" Years, 1900<N>1906
12. Sow the Wind, 1906<N>1908
13. The Whirlwind Rises, 1908<N>1911
14. Denouement, 1911<N>1914
15. Tirpitz at War, August 1914<N>March 1916
16. Uncommon Recessional, 1916<N>1930
17. Conclusion


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