Fighting in the Dark

Book cover for Fighting in the Dark, edited by Vincent P. O'Hara and Trent Hone

Before the twentieth century ships when relied upon visual signaling, vessels beyond range of sight or a cannon shot were blind, deaf, and dumb in the dark, making night battles at sea rare, and near always accidental. The introduction of certain technologies like the torpedo, the searchlight, radio and then radar, transformed naval warfare by making night combat feasible and, in some cases, desirable. The process by which navies integrated these new tools of war and turned the dark into a medium for effective combat, however, was long and difficult.   

Fighting in the Dark tells the story of surface naval combat at night from the Russo-Japanese War through World War II. The book is about the process of confronting and mastering problems brought on by technological change during war. It does this by examining seven periods focusing on the Imperial Russian Navy in 1904–1905, the Imperial German Navy from 1914–1918, the Royal Navy from 1916–1939, the Regia Marina from 1940–1943, the Imperial Japanese Navy in 1942, the U.S. Navy in 1943–1944, and the Royal Navy and Royal Canadian Navy from 1943–1944. The chapters are written by authors hailing from Australia, Canada, Italy, and the United States, all recognized masters in their subject. 

Reviews and Recognitions

“A superb study by first rate scholars of the first 40 years of naval night tactical development during a period of great technological change. The early chapters are particularly welcome since they provide a wealth of new and previously little studied scholarship on naval night tactics in the early 20th Century.” —John T. Kuehn, Ph.D., Professor of Military History. U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Former FADM E.J. King Professor, Naval War College

“Half of every war is fought at night. Fighting in the Dark shows how the Canadian, German, Royal, Italian, Imperial Japanese, Imperial Russian and United States Navies learned–or failed to learn–during 20th century nighttime sea battles. Doing so meant mastering the environment and managing changes to ships, technology, tactics and leadership, all while fighting peer competitors of comparable skill. Deftly explaining what navies needed to win, serving naval officers and civilian students alike will find this milestone book well-researched, lucid, informative and exciting.” —Sarandis Papadopoulos, PhD., historian and co-author of Pentagon 9/11

“This is an intriguing and detailed anthology by a dedicated team of historians, that explores a rarely studied area of naval warfare.  In an age of purportedly revolutionary technological developments, the reader will discover that not every innovation is tied to a wondrous new gizmo or weapon system.   Sometimes surprise comes from an enemy prepared to exploit an unfamiliar context like the chaos of fighting in the dark.  The chapter authors offer “deep dives” and true insights that cover the last century.  These are carefully curated into a unique story about how the “fog of war” can be turned into a weapon.”   —Frank Hoffman, Ph.D., author of Mars Adapting, Military Change During Wartime, National Defense University.

Order Fighting in the Dark

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