Though he was trained at Sandhurst, Winston Churchill's career was intimately bound up with the Royal Navy--the outbreak of both World Wars found him at the ministerial post of First Lord of the Admiralty. In this masterful work, Roskill--author of a dozen books on naval strategy and history--argues that Churchill never fully grasped the nuances of naval warfare, falling back, instead, on strategic concepts better suited to land war. The disastrous results stretched from the famous Dardanelles fiasco of World War I to the single-minded emphasis on the bombing of Germany in World War II (which, in diverting planes from naval support, prolonged the war by six months, Roskill contends), and reflected Churchill's preference for offensive strategy. Unable to tolerate competitive authority, moreover, Churchill was reluctant to initiate reforms in strategic planning or to accept other strong personalities in key positions, preventing alternative strategies from developing. Roskill mutes his criticisms in crediting Churchill with providing the energy and resolve which helped pull the British through World War II, even though his determination often had to compensate for his own mistakes. Constructed as a narrative, Roskill's work is nevertheless analytical, with each decision, non-decision, and battle expertly judged and evaluated. His thorough familiarity with primary and secondary sources, even-handed appraisals, and scholarly skills makes this an eye-opening account of the impact of individuals on history--quite apart from the pleasure it will give to military-history buffs.