The Modern Scholar: High Seas, High Stakes: Naval Battles That Changed History

  • by Timothy B. Shutt
  • Narrated by Timothy B. Shutt
  • 7 hrs and 30 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

Naval battles have long captured the popular imagination, from confrontations between Athens and Sparta in the ancient world to the epic conflicts that took place during the World Wars and beyond.
In this riveting series of lectures, Professor Timothy B. Shutt of Kenyon College explores the naval battles that have helped to establish empires and have changed history.
Throughout the course of world events, as trade and commerce grew in importance and nations became ever more dependent on the import and export of all manner of goods, control of the world's waterways and shipping lanes became a key determinant in which nations reigned supreme. As demonstrated so aptly in the World Wars, blockades at sea can strangle a nation as effectively as sieges laid against walled cities of old. With studied insight into the events that have shaped the world over the millennia, Professor Shutt imparts an understanding and appreciation for the importance of naval warfare in world history - and of the grandeur and daring that define these awe-inspiring clashes.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Intellectually and technically sloppy

I expected a survey course, some direction for additional reading. What Shutt delivered was often intellectually slipshod and technically amateurish.
As for the mental laziness on display here: Even in a survey course, I expect a lecturer to know how to pronounce the names of the people and places under discussion, not to guess at them, as Shutt repeatedly does.
In the opening lecture, Shutt suggested that he would explore themes such as the relationship between merchant oligarchies and naval power. Instead, the lectures often delivered score-keeping. This side lost X number of ships. The other side lost a lot fewer, because they had better ships or they practiced more, or some similar generalization that Shutt fails to explore. The effect is disturbing. OK. Some of these battles took place a long time ago. But those were human beings in those fights. They wanted to live, and many suffered terribly. I'm not asking for Shutt to burst into tears over that. I'm asking him to show some discipline, to draw some broader conclusions, to develop a theme. Other historians do that. Score-keeping insults the dead, the reader and history itself.
On to the technical sloppiness: At the end of the series, a narrator credits three editors. I cannot fathom how they might have spent their time on this project. Certainly not on correcting errors. At one point, I got so exasperated that I actually started keeping a log of Shutt's stumbles, but I kept losing track. There were lots and lots and lots. I can understand that Shutt might stumble in his delivery. What I can't understand is how the publisher could have expected payment for such sloppy editing, or why Audible actually bought it.
I bought it because I didn't know how awful it would be. I wish I hadn't.
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- Chris

Weak and lacking insights

This is a lecture series by a professor on 2000+ years of naval history. Unfortunately, it was very disappointing.

Its major failing is that essentially it was just a factual recounting of major battles using a couple of sources each. The professor provides a bare minimum of analysis for each battle and for Naval history in general. He does not explain why the battles he chose were of particular importance or their lasting consequences. Nor does he show why one side prevailed. He does not explore the developments in naval science or tactics over time.

If you want a crash course in the facts of about 15 major naval battles, that this is a good choice, but the lack of analysis or insights make this a poor value.

Instead read Keegan's History of Warfare, or Alfred Thayer Mahan.
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- Matthew

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-14-2008
  • Publisher: Recorded Books