This book is about the theatre of power and identity that unfolded in and between Britain and Germany in the decades before the First World War. It explores what contemporaries described as the cult of the navy: the many ways in which the navy and the sea were celebrated in the fleet reviews, naval visits and ship launches that were watched by hundreds of thousands of spectators. At once royal rituals and national entertainments, these were events at which tradition, power and claims to the sea were played out between the nations. This was a public stage on which the domestic and the foreign intersected and where the modern mass market of media and consumerism collided with politics and international relations. Conflict and identity were literally acted out between the two countries. By focusing on this dynamic arena, Jan Rüger offers a fascinating new history of the Anglo-German antagonism.
• An innovative history of the cult of the navy in Britain and Germany in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries • Will appeal to scholars interested in the social and cultural history of military and naval history as well as imperial history and nationalism • Features thirty illustrations, many of which are rare historical photographs
Introduction; 1. The rise of the naval theatre; 2. Culture, politics and the mass market; 3. Bread and circuses; 4. Nation, navy and the sea; 5. The Anglo-German theatre; Epilogue: No more parades; Bibliography.
'Jan Rüger has written a wonderful book that brings together military, cultural, and comparative history in an exemplary manner. His study offers a new, highly original perspective on the flourishing of the Anglo-German antagonism before the First World War.' Journal of British Studies
'A path-breaking study, striking and original. The writing is elegant, and the research impressive.' International History Review
'Researched with admirable depth and intensity, should be widely read and discussed.' Journal of Military History
'Students of German or British nationalism, imperialism, militarism, and consumerism will not want to miss this book.' H-net
'Incisively written, a compelling analysis.' Mariner's Mirror
'This is an important book that can rightly claim to have examined the Anglo-German antagonism during the pre-1914 period from a new perspective. … After the cultural perspective has belatedly come to naval history this book takes a further turn through which it reconnects the cultural with the political. It is this effort to bring about such a turn that, together with its sophisticated comparison of British and German naval policy, makes Rüger's The Great Naval Game such a stimulating and highly recommended read.' Volker R. Berghahn, Central European History