Book Reviews: HMS Hood – Pride of the Royal Navy by Daniel Knowles and The End of Glory – War & Peace in HMS Hood 1916-1941 by Bruce Taylor

I have read a number of books on the HMS Hood and hesitated before buying HMS Hood – Pride of the Royal Navy as I had read some of the reviews and wondered whether I needed to read another. But in the end I bought it, but although there were aspects that I liked, I was disappointed with others.

The major plus point is the collection of photographs (although I was a bit puzzled by the number from the ‘author’s collection’ rather than further information on who took them) and it covering the whole history of the Hood and her captains.

The downsides are the level of detail it tries to provide, but falls short on. Details about all journeys made by the Hood are given – but little more. It’s like a text form of a bullet point list at times. It left me wondering more about what these journeys were for and why so many repairs were needed. The author seemed primarily interested in focussing on battles and the Hood‘s ultimate demise. So much more could and should be done to fill the gaps about what happened for much of its existence.

And then, the book ends with the most puzzling aspect of the book itself by saying it would have been highly unlikely that it would ever have been turned into a museum ship had it survived the war as it was its sinking that made it an icon. The Pride of the Royal Navy – to use the subtitle of the book itself – became an icon due to its sinking? That’s not what the first half of the book was suggesting. And the Hood was less iconic than the Belfast, which the book points out as being a museum ship in the same paragraph? With this, and the frustration of a number of typing errors, I was left disappointed by the end of the book – which was a shame as I thought it handled the emotion of the sinking itself very well.

The End of Glory – War & Peace in HMS Hood 1916-1941 was a totally different experience.

The Hood was a ship, but this book, while still making readers mourn her loss, more than anything reminds of the need to mourn those who perished on her. This book does a fabulous job of filling gaps left by many books, not just those about the Hood but war-related books more generally, that overlook what life, and death, in war was like. It doesn’t attempt to glorify anything, it is an honest warts and all comprehensive discussion, interspersed with words from those who actually sailed on her, of their lives and Hood‘s life.

As the Hood served for so long and due to her significant peacetime role, the book naturally and rightly includes her whole history. All that is missing now is for someone to use this book as a basis to turn into a TV series or movie.

As a side note, I read the Kindle version and found that it worked well. The book is primarily text, but the photos that were included work well. But there are other books on the Hood which are more visual, and they’d probably be better bought as physical copies.

See also my post about HMS Hood.

Ventis Secundis – With Favourable Winds

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