Like other books in Norman Friedman's design-history series, this
one pays attention to all designs, even those that never left the
drawing board, since every proposal made is a link in the evolution
of the cruiser force. Friedman, a recognized authority on U.S.
warships, uncovers the reasoning behind the many radical changes in
U.S. cruiser design, which culminated in the series of Aegis
missile ships. He deals both with evolving technology and with
those changes in the doctrine and role of the U.S. Navy that
clearly affected cruiser design, Because the nature of the cruiser
is somewhat ill defined, his book discusses a wide variety of
ships, from the battleship-like armored cruisers of the turn of the
century the battle cruisers of 1916 to scout cruisers and the
Atlantas, ships that were, in many ways, enlarged destroyers. It
covers the emergence of ""peace cruisers,"" which were essentially
large gunboats, and the post-1945 command and missile cruisers. The
World War II Alaska-class large cruisers are also included.
Friedman shows how the path from the first steel cruisers to the
ultramodern Ticonderogas defines many of the themes of U.S. naval
development: the transition from a coastal defense/commerce raiding
navy to a navy designed to seize and exploit command of the world's
oceans, and from a navy of independent cruisers on foreign stations
to a battle fleet navy and then a carrier navy. Arms control is
another important theme of this book. Friedman explains how cruiser
design, much more that the design of any other category of ship,
has been affected by the constraints of naval arms limitation
treaties. He uses the Erie-class gunboat, a ""slow cruiser,"" and
the original Cleveland, an abortive design that stayed within the
8,000-ton limit prescribed by the London Treaty of 1936, as
examples of attempts to exploit treaty restrictions. Also carefully
examined are the many post-World War II cruiser projects, both
those that were built, like the nuclear powered Long Beach, and
those that were not, like the specialized command ship of 1968. In
every case, the author discusses not merely what was tried, but why
it succeeded or failed. A.D. Baker III and Alan Raven have drawn
detailed scale outboard and plan views of each cruiser class and of
major modifications to many classes. The author has provided
inboard profiles and sketches of abortive projects. Numerous
photographs complement the text. Appendices include ship
characteristics and data on ship careers. U.S. Cruisers is
essential reading for those concerned with the future of the U.S.
Navy. Naval historians and architects alike will find this the most
comprehensive reference available on the subject.
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