From the time when a tiny British land fighter flew off an old barge to attack a Zeppelin in 1918, that fantastically large and complex warship known as the aircraft carrier has grown to primary importance in naval strategy. This book---written by a master of naval and aviation storytelling---traces the carrier's development through a series of colorful episodes linked by solid narrative material. Much concentration of course is put on World War II with its great and decisive carrier battles at sea. Included for instance is the story of HMS Ark Royal and her part in sinking the Bismarck---Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor and Jimmy Doolittle's consequent return call on Tokyo---the great Coral Sea and Midway battles, and the Philippine Sea battles, in which carriers played vital roles. Whitehouse, who has the gift of turning even dry statistics into vital, meaningful prose, ends on an analysis of what the aircraft carrier has become today and what role it can now play in the grim game of sea warfare. Excellent.