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Dan van der Vat
Dan van der Vat is a journalist and author of ten books on maritime history, including The Ship That Changed the World. He has written for the New York Times, The Times and the Sunday Times, and now writes for the Guardian.

The Dardanelles Disaster

Winston Churchill's Greatest Failure

Dan van der Vat

Dan van der Vat has built a powerful reputation as a naval historian. The Dardanelles Disaster is a thundering assessment of a long-forgotten campaign that was a minefield of diplomacy and a failure of deep consequence that paved the way for the Russian revolution Oxford Times

Established naval historian [Dan van der Vat] approaches his subject with a clear grasp of how the Dardanelles Campaign fitted into the wider strategy of World War One, giving the reader a helpful context for the way the Dardanelles Campaign was conceived… The author combines a fascinating account of the political and military decisions in London, with some of the detail of the ill fated military and naval campaigns… This book will be enjoyed by those with an interest in the Dardanelles, but it should also attract the more general reader, including those who have perhaps not yet discovered this fascinating – if disturbing – piece of history’ Nautical Magazine

More quotes

The British Navy's failed attempt to capture Constantinople and secure a sea route to Russia in 1915 marked a turning point of World War I. Acclaimed naval military historian Dan van der Vat argues that the disaster at the Dardanelles not only prolonged the war for two years and brought Britain to the brink of starvation, but also led to the Russian Revolution and contributed to the rapid destabilization of the Middle East.

With a narrative rich in human drama, The Dardanelles Disaster highlights the diplomatic clashes from Whitehall to the Hellespont, Berlin to Constantinople, and St Petersburg to the Bosporus. Van der Vat analyzes then-First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill's response to the obstacles he faced and describes the fateful actions of the Turkish, German, and British governments throughout the Gallipoli Campaign. With detailed analysis of the battle's events and never-before-published information on the German navy's mine laying operations, The Dardanelles Disaster tells a forgotten story from a fresh viewpoint, shedding light on one of World War I's most pivotal moments – and in particular on one avoidable and monumental blunder.

Praise for Dan van der Vat

[The Last Corsair: The Story of the Emden]

‘Carefully and vividly set out … Mr van der Vat spins a rattling good yarn’ Economist

‘A first-class and most readable addition to naval literature which benefits from the very considerable amount of detailed research by the author’ Guardian

[The Ship that Changed the World: The Escape of the Goeben to the Dardanelles in 1914]

‘An engrossing narrative … by far the best book on the extraordinary career of the Goeben’ The Times

[The Grand Scuttle: The Sinking of the German Fleet at Scapa Flow in 1919]

‘Readable and enjoyable … Mr van der Vat has broken a lot of new ground in an important and hitherto neglected patch of history and has established himself as a first-rate storyteller in the process’ Economist

[The Pacific Campaign: World War II: The U.S.–Japanese Naval War, 1941-1945]

‘A classic narrative and analytical history. It belongs of the bookshelf of every American who contemplates the meaning of the greatest sea war in history’ New York Times

[The Good Nazi]

‘Thorough and competent research and good clearheaded prose … the last word on Albert Speer’ J K Galbraith