World War II had many superlatives, but none like Operation Torch—a series of simultaneous amphibious landings, audacious commando and paratroop assaults, and the Atlantic’s biggest naval battle, fought across a two thousand mile span of coastline in French North Africa. The risk was enormous, the scale breathtaking, the preparations rushed, the training inadequate, and the ramifications profound.

Torch was the first combined Allied offensive and key to how the Second World War unfolded politically and militarily. Nonetheless, historians have treated the subject lightly, perhaps because of its many ambiguities. As a surprise invasion of a neutral nation, it recalled German attacks against countries like Belgium, Norway, and Yugoslavia. The operation’s rationale was to aid Russia but did not do this. It was supposed to get Americans troops into the fight against Germany but did so only because it failed to achieve its short-term military goals. There is still debate whether Torch advanced the fight against the Axis, or was a wasteful dispersion of Allied strength and actually prolonged the war.

Torch: North Africa and the Allied Path to Victory is a fresh look at this complex and controversial operation.  The book covers the fierce Anglo-American dispute about the operation and charts how it fits into the evolution of amphibious warfare. It recounts the story of the fighting, focusing on the five landings—Port Lyautey, Fédala, and Safi in Morocco, and Oran and Algiers in Algeria—and includes air and ground actions from the initial assault to the repulse of Allied forces on the outskirts of Tunis. Torch also considers the operation’s context within the larger war and it incorporates the French perspective better than any English-language work on the subject. It shows how Torch brought France, as a power, back into the Allied camp; how it forced the English and the Americans to work together as true coalition partners and forge a coherent amphibious doctrine. These skills were then applied to subsequent operations in the Mediterranean, in the English Channel, and in the Pacific. The story of how this was accomplished is the story of how the Allies brought their power to bear on the enemy’s continental base and won the Second World War.



Edited by Vincent P. O'Hara, W. David Dickson and Richard Worth.
Contributing authors:
Trent Hone: The United States Navy
John Roberts: British Royal Navy
Zvonimir Freivogel: Austro-Hungarian Kaiserliche und Königliche Kriegsmarine
Jean Moulin: France Marine Nationale
Enrico Cernuschi and Vincent P. O'Hara: Italy Regia Marina
Peter Schenk with Dr. Axel Niestlé and Dieter Thomaier: German Kaiserliche Marine
Stephen McLaughlin: Russian Imperial Navy

The only comparative analysis available of the great navies of World War I--each chapter is written by a recognzed expert fluent in the subject language. The work demonstrates why the First World War was won, not in the trenches, but upon the waves. It explains why these seven fleets fought the way they did and why the war at sea did not develop as the admiralties and politicians of 1914 expected.

After discussing each navy's goals and circumstances and how their individual characteristics impacted the way they fought, the authors deliver a side-by-side analysis of the conflict's fleets, with each chapter covering a single navy. Parallel chapter structures assure consistent coverage of each fleet--history, training, organization, doctrine, materiel, and operations--and allow readers to easily compare information among the various navies. The book clearly demonstrates how the naval war was a collision of 19th century concepts with 20th century weapons that fostered unprecedented development within each navy and sparked the evolution of the submarine and aircraft carrier. The work is free from the national bias that infects so many other books on World War I navies. As they pioneer new ways of viewing the conflict, the authors provide insights and material that would otherwise require a massive library and mastery of multiple languages. Such a study has special relevance today as 20th-century navies struggle to adapt to 21st-century technologies.

"To Crown the Waves is a welcome addition to the naval literature of World War I. It provides a concise survey and evaluation of the major navies that goes well beyond mere lists of warships. The chapters are written by experts in their fields, and most readers are likely to learn much that they had not known before."
-- Paul G. Halpern, Professor Emeritus, Florida State University and author of A Naval History of World War I

"To grasp what happened at sea during World War I, you need to go beyond the battles and the ships to see how the various navies of World War I expected to fight (and how that differed from what they experienced) and how they were organized to do so. This book is a unique and vital contribution to our understanding of the war at sea in 1914-18."-- Norman Friedman, author of British Cruisers of the Victorian Era and Naval Weapons of World War One

"In To Crown the Waves, Vince O'Hara has led a team of experts in their particular fields in writing a uniform and comprehensive study of each of the major and minor navies of World War I. Each navy is described, from their history to their warships and their design; ports and resources that they had available; their training, strategic and tactical doctrine, and conduct of the war on, over, and under the waves, all supported with numerous tables. As such, this is an excellent introduction to the navies of all of the major and minor powers of World War I and will surprise the 'expert' with nuggets of new information on the navies of this era.
"-- Jack Greene, coauthor of Hitler Strikes North: The Nazi Invasion of Norway & Denmark, April 9, 1940

The naval war of 1939-1945 was a long and bitter struggle fought in every ocean, on, below and above the sea. It resonates with famous names like Midway, Bismarck, Guadalcanal, and the Battle of the Atlantic. This collection of articles previously published in national magazines including World War II, Tin Can Sailor, and Pacific War explores some less famous episodes in the naval war including naval actions fought in the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean, the South China Sea, and the English Channel, between the naval forces of France, Thailand, Italy, Poland, Germany, Japan, and of course, the U.S. and Royal navies.

The Royal Navy's Revenge includes the title action, the last surface battle of the war between British destroyers and a former nemesis of the Royal Navy, the Japanese heavy cruiser Haguro. The story of the U.S. Navy's first surface action against the Japanese, a victory won off the coast of Borneo by four World War I era destroyers is included. The book also contains self-contained and fast-paced accounts of naval actions fought between Italy and Germany, France and Great Britain, and the Battle of Koh-Chang, between France and Thailand. It also has an account of a mystery battle between German and American destroyers that has escaped the notice of historians until recently, the story of the defiant German flotilla that held out in the English Channel until the very end of the war and the little known naval campaign fought off the coast of Syria between Vichy France and naval forces from Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand..

By mid-1942 the Allies were losing the Mediterranean war: Malta was isolated and its civilian population faced starvation. In June 1942 the British Royal Navy made a stupendous effort to break the Axis stranglehold. The British dispatched armed convoys from Gibraltar and Egypt toward Malta. In a complex battle lasting more than a week, Italian and German forces defeated Operation Vigorous, the larger eastern effort, and ravaged the western convoy, Operation Harpoon, in a series of air, submarine, and surface attacks culminating in the Battle of Pantelleria. Just two of seventeen merchant ships that set out for Malta reached their destination. In Passage Perilous presents a detailed description of the operations and assesses the actual impact Malta had on the fight to deny supplies to Rommel’s army in North Africa. The book’s discussion of the battle’s operational aspects highlights the complex relationships between air and naval power and the influence of geography on littoral operations.

"A very readable account of the convoy battles fought inside the Mediterranean in 1942. Drawing heavily on Italian sources, In Passage Perilous is carefully researched, objective, balanced and well written. It is likely to become the standard account of the critical phase of the Mediterranean conflict." —H. P. Willmott, author of The Last Century of Sea Power

(H. P. Willmott, author of The Last Century of Sea Power )

"Vincent O’Hara has written both a definitive account and an entertaining read of the critical Malta resupply convoy battles of June 1942. Operations Harpoon and Vigorous, often merely mentioned in passing, have finally received the in-depth English language study they deserve. O'Hara has worked in all the relevant languages and has offered much new material not seen before. His account is the most comprehensive and balanced study yet of the Battle of Pantelleria--his discussion of ordnance and mine issues is new and illuminating. I really enjoy that the author has analyzed in depth the Allied and Axis battle tactics as well as the overall strategies--you don’t just get what happened, but what might have occurred and why. Bravo and well done!" —Jack Greene, co-author of The Naval War in the Mediterranean

(Jack Greene, co-author of The Naval War in the Mediterranean )



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Edited by Vincent P. O'Hara, W. David Dickson and Richard Worth.
Contributing authors:
Trent Hone: The United States Navy
David Wragg: British Royal Navy
Mark Peattie: Japan Nihon Kaigun
John Jordan: France Marine Nationale
Enrico Cernuschi and Vincent P. O'Hara: Italy Regia Marina
Peter Schenk with Karsten Klein, Dr. Axel Niestlé, Dieter Thomaier, and Berndt R. Wenzel: German Kriegsmarine
Stephen McLaughlin: Soviet Voenno-Morskoi Flot

ON SEAS CONTESTED is an unprecedented international collaboration that
delivers a point-by-point evaluation of the war’s seven major fleets. The United States Navy, the Royal Navies of the United Kingdom and the British Commonwealth, Japan’s Nihon Kaigun, the German Kriegsmarine, the Italian Regia Marina, France’s Marine Nationale, and the Soviet Voenno-Morskoi Flot—each navy has its own chapter in a consistent format leading through the key features such as weaponry, administration, logistics, and doctrine.Until now, the inner workings of the great fleets have been buried in specialized works, in various languages, with English-language accounts fixed on the perspective of the American and British victors. The authors of On Seas Contested have pooled their expertise to explain how each fleet was organized, how it trained, how it planned to operate, and how it fought. The result is an illuminating history that pioneers a new perspective on the war at sea—the definitive reference collected into a single volume.

"This ground-breaking book seeks not only to look deeper at the main navies which fought World War II, but to do so in a way which encources the reader to cmpare them, to see what made them so different in aciton. The approach is vital for our understanding of the greatest naval war in history.The writers, moreover, have used non-English language sources for the non-English languages, and in so doing have greatly enlarged our traditional view of World War II at sea. If you want to understand that war, you have to read this book."
NORMAN FRIEDMAN, British Destroyers: From Earliest Days to the Second World War

More information about On Seas Contested

Available  from Naval Institute Press Order Book

Struggle cover

 "In essence, Mr. O'Hara has given us a straightforward account of the naval war in the Mediterranean and proved his point that the Italian navy functioned in a professional and courageous manner. It is a welcome and clarifying addition to the existing literature on the Mediterranean campaign." - Sol Schindler, The Washington Times

It was past time that English speaking scholars and enthusiasts of naval history could have at their disposala new, up-to-date work dedicated to aero-naval operations in the Mediterranean during the Second Wrold War. Thanks to Vincent O'Hara . . . this task has been accomplished in an admirable fashion.  Erminio Bagnasco, STORIA Militare

“O’Hara, with access to previously little-seen archives, particularly from Italy, gives us a new and stunningly important view of World War II, replete with geography lessons which remain valid today.  This is a  fabulously readable and important book.” Defense & Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy.

The Mediterranean Sea was the most intensely contested body of water in World War II. As the maritime crossroads where Europe, Asia, and Africa meet, more major naval actions were fought in the Mediterranean than in the Atlantic or Pacific. Despite its importance, remarkably little has been written about the subject, and what exists is largely one-sided and outdated. This fresh study of the naval war in the Mediterranean analyzes the actions and performances of the five major navies—British, Italian, French, German, and American—during the entire five-year campaign and objectively examines the national imperatives that drove each nation's maritime strategy. The book's perspective and depth of detail is unmatched by other works, and its fresh viewpoints, supported by extensive research in Italian and French sources, are certain to provoke controversy

Avaliable from Amazon. Order Book

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Coauthored with Enrico Cernuschi

The huge tragedy suffered by the Italian navy and nation has been reduced, until today, to a brief mention in the very few books available abroad about the Regia Marina’s war between 1940 and 1945. It is thus quite important that a new essay directed toward English speaking readers is dedicated, at last, to these events, allowing them to sortie beyond the confines of Italian naval historiography--which has long debated these themes--and the scanty circulation abroad of the Italian language. -- Erminio Bagnasco, Editor, STORIA Militare

Dark Navy is a valuable re-assessment of the Italian Navy at a critical moment in World War Two and should be required reading for anyone researching the war in the Mediterranean. -- Jean Hood, author of Submarine and other works

Dark Navy is a masterful account of the Regia Marina’s role in the Armistice of September 1943. It is the story of a navy’s desperate efforts to keep its head above the chaotic waters of Italy’s impending military defeat and emerge with its honour intact. The authors are to be commended for overturning the propagandist mythology which has often marred English-language histories of this difficult period in Italian history. --John Jordan, Editor, Warship 

Dark Navy is the story of the Regia Marina and the Italian armistice of September 1943. The story begins in July 1943 when Benito Mussolini, Italy’s premier and warlord, and the father of fascism fell from power in a hastily arranged plot, the details of which even today remain controversial. A cabal of generals took the nation’s reins and proceeded to bungle their way toward an accommodation with the Allies. When General Eisenhower announced an armistice with Italy he believed he had struck a deal that included military cooperation. In fact, the generals had promised more than they could deliver and Germany’s swift reprisal shattered Italy’s confused air force and army. The armistice likewise caught Italy’s navy by surprise, with its battleships raising steam to attack the Allied fleet landing at Salerno. Nonetheless, the Regia Marina obeyed its government’s orders and honored the pact the generals had negotiated. Rather than evaporating like Italy’s other services, however, it proceeded to fight a lone three-week campaign against Germany, without Allied support, and retained complete control of its ships, regardless of the ports circumstances forced them to seek refuge in. 

Dark Navy is a deeply-researched and highly readable exploration of this confusing and fascinating corner of history. It refutes the conventional notion that Italy’s fleet abjectly surrendered to Allied power. It shows how the navy paved Italy’s path from enemy to co-belligerent with the blood and unconquered spirit of its men. Despite German and Allied intentions to secure Italy’s fleet for their own uses, it remained Italian to the end: a dark navy – not victorious, but undefeated.

Honorable Mention: Best World War II Books of 2007 - Stone & Stone. http://stonebooks.com/archives/080106.shtml

Available from Naval Institute Press. Order book

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“In this magnificent and meticulous work packed with fresh information and original insight, Vincent O’Hara dethrones the conventional wisdom that mastery of amphibious, carrier, and submarine warfare explains the U.S. Navy’s triumph in World War II. He demonstrates with vividly rendered portraits of forty-nine encounters that U.S. surface combatants made at least an equal contribution. This is a must read on the Pacific War and the history of American naval operations.”  —Richard B. Frank, author of Guadalcanal: The Definitive Account of the Landmark Battle

“The U.S. Navy Against the Axis is the sort of book that can wear a rut into your shelf as you grab for it time and again—a broad scope supported by details as seen by both sides. O’Hara succeeds not simply because he delves past the well known into the episodes that most accounts gloss over, but because he fixes them all into context with the U.S. Navy’s total war effort.”  —Richard Worth, author of Fleets of World War II

“By meticulously examining every U. S. Navy surface action between 1942 and 1945, O’Hara calls attention to the relevant and vital contribution the surface force made to the final victory. His work is one of the most significant additions to the Navy’s World War II historiography since Morison.”  —Karl Zingheim, director of history, USS Midway Museum

“O’Hara has written an indispensable, well-researched review of the surface navy’s bravery and decisive relevance, from the tragic martyring of the Asiatic Fleet to the climactic recapture of the Philippines.”   —James D. Hornfischer, author of Ship of Ghosts and The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors

"I strongly recommend this volume to those souls pursuing studies in naval history. At the same time,the author offers a fascinating story of human hope, effort, and error that can be appreciated by the layman as well as the scholar." --Wade G. Dudley, East Carolina University in Nautical Research Journal, September 2008.

"Clear and balanced and mercifully free of the polemic which mars some accounts of the US Navy's actions. --John Jordan, editor Warship 2008. Complete review

"The U.S. Navy Against the Axis helps to fill a void in the history of the Second World War and will prove valuable to any student of naval history." The Journal of Military History, July 2008. Complete review

"A well-organized, well written and comprehensive naval history that deserves careful attention by all naval historians." -- Warship International Vol 43 No. 3

Author's Perspective. World War II Quarterly (4)1. May 2007. 56-59. A discussion of the rationale behind The U.S. Navy Against the Axis.  Complete article

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The German Fleet at War is about how combat influences and illuminates a navy’s wartime activities.  The German navy's surface fleet has received little attention and that focuses on famous ships like Bismarck or Graf Spee.  The German Fleet at War relates the story of all sixty-nine surface naval action fought by the German navy's major warships against major warships of the British, French, American, Polish, Soviet, Norwegian and Greek navies. It emphasizes the operational details of these actions within a broad overview of the naval war. The presentation is objective and the pacing is rapid, filled with the flavor of naval combat as well as the facts.   It is a unique overview of the German and Allied navies at war and it gives a new appreciation of their activities and accomplishments.

Sample Chapter

Reviews by Stone and Stone Books, Warship 2005, World War II History Magazine, (May 2005), Warship International (Vol. 41, No. 1)

German Fleet has sold out its press run and is difficult to obtain. I have a few copies at $50 (inscribed and including postage). Contact me at vohara@gmail.com to purchase a copy. 

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