counter create hit The Tsar's Last Armada: The Epic Journey to the Battle of Tsushima - Download Free eBook
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

The Tsar's Last Armada: The Epic Journey to the Battle of Tsushima

Availability: Ready to download

On May 14-15, 1905, in the Tsushima Straits near Japan, an entire Russian fleet was annihilated, its ships sunk, scattered, or captured by the Japanese. In the deciding battle of the Russo-Japanese War, the Japanese lost only three destroyers but the Russians lost twenty-two ships and thousands of sailors. It was the first modern naval battle, employing all the new technol On May 14-15, 1905, in the Tsushima Straits near Japan, an entire Russian fleet was annihilated, its ships sunk, scattered, or captured by the Japanese. In the deciding battle of the Russo-Japanese War, the Japanese lost only three destroyers but the Russians lost twenty-two ships and thousands of sailors. It was the first modern naval battle, employing all the new technology of destruction. The old imperial navy was woefully unprepared. The defeat at Tsushima was the last and greatest of many indignities suffered by the Russian fleet, which had traveled halfway around the world to reach the battle, dogged every mile by bad luck and misadventure. Their legendary admiral, dubbed "Mad Dog," led them on an extraordinary eighteen-thousand-mile journey from the Baltic Sea, around Europe, Africa, and Asia, to the Sea of Japan. They were burdened by the Tsar's incompetent leadership and the old, slow ships that he insisted be included to bulk up the fleet. Moreover, they were under constant fear of attack, and there were no friendly ports to supply coal, food, and fresh water. The level of self-sufficiency attained by this navy was not seen again until the Second World War. The battle of Tsushima is among the top five naval battles in history, equal in scope and drama to those of Lepanto, Trafalgar, Jutland, and Midway, yet despite its importance it has been long neglected in the West. With a novelist's eye and a historian's authority, Constantine Pleshakov tells of the Russian squadron's long, difficult journey and fast, horrible defeat.


Compare
Ads Banner

On May 14-15, 1905, in the Tsushima Straits near Japan, an entire Russian fleet was annihilated, its ships sunk, scattered, or captured by the Japanese. In the deciding battle of the Russo-Japanese War, the Japanese lost only three destroyers but the Russians lost twenty-two ships and thousands of sailors. It was the first modern naval battle, employing all the new technol On May 14-15, 1905, in the Tsushima Straits near Japan, an entire Russian fleet was annihilated, its ships sunk, scattered, or captured by the Japanese. In the deciding battle of the Russo-Japanese War, the Japanese lost only three destroyers but the Russians lost twenty-two ships and thousands of sailors. It was the first modern naval battle, employing all the new technology of destruction. The old imperial navy was woefully unprepared. The defeat at Tsushima was the last and greatest of many indignities suffered by the Russian fleet, which had traveled halfway around the world to reach the battle, dogged every mile by bad luck and misadventure. Their legendary admiral, dubbed "Mad Dog," led them on an extraordinary eighteen-thousand-mile journey from the Baltic Sea, around Europe, Africa, and Asia, to the Sea of Japan. They were burdened by the Tsar's incompetent leadership and the old, slow ships that he insisted be included to bulk up the fleet. Moreover, they were under constant fear of attack, and there were no friendly ports to supply coal, food, and fresh water. The level of self-sufficiency attained by this navy was not seen again until the Second World War. The battle of Tsushima is among the top five naval battles in history, equal in scope and drama to those of Lepanto, Trafalgar, Jutland, and Midway, yet despite its importance it has been long neglected in the West. With a novelist's eye and a historian's authority, Constantine Pleshakov tells of the Russian squadron's long, difficult journey and fast, horrible defeat.

30 review for The Tsar's Last Armada: The Epic Journey to the Battle of Tsushima

  1. 5 out of 5

    'Aussie Rick'

    Constantine Pleshakov's new book; The Tsar's Last Armada: The Epic Voyage to the Battle of Tsushima, is a compelling account of the voyage undertaken by a Russian Fleet half way around the world which ended in its total annihilation at the hands of the Japanese during the Battle of Tsushima. The book concentrates more on the actual events leading up to the decision to send the Russian fleet on this journey, the voyage itself and the personalities involved. Some previous reviews have made mention Constantine Pleshakov's new book; The Tsar's Last Armada: The Epic Voyage to the Battle of Tsushima, is a compelling account of the voyage undertaken by a Russian Fleet half way around the world which ended in its total annihilation at the hands of the Japanese during the Battle of Tsushima. The book concentrates more on the actual events leading up to the decision to send the Russian fleet on this journey, the voyage itself and the personalities involved. Some previous reviews have made mention of the lack of detail on the actual battle itself, however the book's titles gives you a fair idea of the content and I think it was a story told well, full of interest and drama. In the introduction the author makes it very clear that the story is told from a Western viewpoint: "The Russian and British archives that I have used allow one to tell the story of Tsushima with some hope of being objective and complete, yet, I know that my research is deficient. I do not read Japanese, and without Japanese archival evidence it is not possible to write anything truly comprehensive about the war. So this is the story of Tsushima told from a Western perspective, as it was seen through Russian, British, French, and German eyes - nothing more, but also, hopefully, nothing less." Overall I found the story interesting and although I too would have liked more on the Battle of Tsushima there was enough to complete the story. The book has filled me with an urge to learn more of this decisive engagement and I will look around for another book to complete my education. The narrative was well presented and held my interest throughout the journey. Towards the end of the book I felt quite sorry for Vice-Admiral Rozhestvensky who appeared to have done the best he could under most trying circumstances. This is decent account and I think accomplishes what the author set out to do, to tell the story "of the Russian squadron's long, difficult journey and fast, horrible defeat." One compliant that could be leveled at the author would be the standard of the maps provided. I am sure anyone who enjoys stories of mans determination and perseverance against adversity will enjoy this book. However you will need to look further for a more comprehensive account of the Battle of Tsushima.

  2. 4 out of 5

    David

    An excellent telling of the Battle of Tsushima and Rozhestvensky’s doomed voyage leading up to it. If you are interested in the topic (or Tsarist/Revolutionary/Soviet/Russian History), it’s a great find.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    A great piece of history; of course this from an old navy guy. I enjoyed this book immensely.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Michael Burnam-Fink

    The journey of the Russian Baltic Fleet to their doomed end at the Battle of Tsushima is one of the lesser known sagas of naval history. I have a fondness for the period due to many happy hours with Distant Guns a decade ago. Phleshakov has produced a very Russian popular history, focusing on the commanding Admiral Rozhestvensky. The Russo-Japanese War was one of those tragedies of Empire, with Japan and Russia dueling over control of Korea and Manchuria. Tsar Nicolas II has a racist disregard fo The journey of the Russian Baltic Fleet to their doomed end at the Battle of Tsushima is one of the lesser known sagas of naval history. I have a fondness for the period due to many happy hours with Distant Guns a decade ago. Phleshakov has produced a very Russian popular history, focusing on the commanding Admiral Rozhestvensky. The Russo-Japanese War was one of those tragedies of Empire, with Japan and Russia dueling over control of Korea and Manchuria. Tsar Nicolas II has a racist disregard for the Japanese, amplified by an attack he suffered as youth touring Japan. He thought a short victorious war would just the thing to shore up his tottering regime. Unfortunately, the war turned against Russia early on, with a surprise torpedo boat attack damaging two Russian battleships. Two more Russian battleships hit mines while on patrol, killing Admiral Stepan Osipovich Makarov, the most able Russian commander in the region. A breakout attempt failed in the Battle of the Yellow Sea, and with Japanese artillery closing in on Port Arthur, the Russian Pacific Fleet seemed doomed. Except for one insane idea. Russia had another major fleet in the Baltic. What if they sailed around the world, combined with the remains of the Pacific Fleet, and then crushed the Japanese with superior numbers? It would be an audacious gamble, a long distance deployment unparalleled in naval history, and one that could win the war. Pulling off this maneuver would require discipline, technologically efficiency, and world-spanning logistics and intelligence. Tsarist Russia had none of these. The story, as it develops, is a classic Russian tragedy. Rozhestvensky, one of the better Russian naval officers of the era, was burdened with a staff of lesser Romanov cousins and other gilded incompetents. Tsar Nicolar ordered the largest fleet possible, including several transports and obsolete battleships in doubtful mechanical condition. Steam battleships required ample coaling, and Russia had no worldwide empire to support the ships, making logistics a matter of desperate improvisation. Intelligence was a faulty mess of paranoid conspiracies, leading to the Dogger Bank incident, where the fleet shot up English fishing trawlers under the misapprehension they were Japanese torpedo boats, causing a major international incident. The flotilla limped along at five to eight knots, halting for frequent breakdowns. Only French colonies would permit resupply, and then under protest. The fleet spent two months at Madagascar and another month in Vietnam, waiting for the even more ramshackle reinforcements of the Third Pacific Fleet and going slowly mad under the tropical sun. Admiral Tojo of Japan used this time for a full refit and more training, sharpening the already elite Japanese battlefleet to a razor's edge. When the fleets finally found each other in Tsushima strait, the battle was as much as foregone. Tojo crossed the Russian T, allowing his entire battle line to focus on the lead ships of the enemy, who were unable to reply in turn. Rozhestvensky was soon wounded, unable to exercise tactical command, and the Russians were defeated in detail before enduring a sad captivity while peace negotiations proceeded. The Tsar's Last Armada is narrowly focused, and I believe somewhat sensationalized, but it's a solid naval history. And the acknowledgement has the best dedication, which I will reproduce in full. "I want to end my acknowledgement with a very Russian twist. I am extremely grateful to these people who persistently discouraged me from writing this book. They did not like me, or the project, or in most cases both. Thank you--your hostility fortified my will and made me work harder." Get some.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    This book purports to be a history of one of history's most tragic odysseys, the 18,000 mile voyage of the Russian Baltic Fleet from St. Petersburg to its near total destruction at the Battle of Tsushima on May 14, 1905. Tsushima was one of the most lopsided victories in naval history, and decisive in that it helped force the Russians to throw in the towel in their war against Japan although had the war gone on much longer, the Russians might have actually prevailed. But with Russia facing revol This book purports to be a history of one of history's most tragic odysseys, the 18,000 mile voyage of the Russian Baltic Fleet from St. Petersburg to its near total destruction at the Battle of Tsushima on May 14, 1905. Tsushima was one of the most lopsided victories in naval history, and decisive in that it helped force the Russians to throw in the towel in their war against Japan although had the war gone on much longer, the Russians might have actually prevailed. But with Russia facing revolution at home and with Japan near the end of her resources, a quick peace was signed, and in consequence of which, the mediator, American President Theodore Roosevelt won the Nobel Peace Prize. Unfortunately, this book is at best highly uneven in terms of history and all too often flat out wrong. I am not sure who the editor was, but he or she completely fell down on the job. I am sure had the Naval Institute Press reviewed this book, they would have ironed out these mistakes. Let me focus on just two. First of all, Pleshakov consistently mislabels the Russian destroyers as "torpedo boats". Russian Admiral Z. P. Rozhestvensky possessed no "torpedo boats" in his squadron, although the Japanese had dozens. Torpedo boats then and later did not possess the range or endurance for long range operations such as the voyage from the Baltic to the Pacific. Where this error probably comes from is the fact that the term "destroyer" is itself a contraction of the original title for this ship class: "torpedo-boat destroyers". Destroyers came into being as vessels smaller than battleships or cruisers which were nonetheless (somewhat) larger than torpedo boats and which had the speed and stamina to accompany the battle fleet and protect the bigger ships from attacks by torpedo boats. Somewhat confusingly, destroyers also sported a torpedo armament and could themselves be used in torpedo boat fashion - threatening larger battleships and cruisers with torpedo attacks. This is a galling mistake that happens again and again and erodes confidence in Pleshakov's understanding of naval matters and the degree to which somebody checked this book for errors. In another error, Pleshakov claims that Admiral Nebogatov, who surrendered three Russian battleships the day after Tsushima, died in 1934 when he in fact died a dozen years earlier in 1922. Further, while Pleshakov tries hard to fill out the character of commanding admiral Zinovy Rozhestvensky, in the end I find little in this book to contest other accounts of Rozhestvensky being little more than a naval martinet who tried to rule with intimidation and terror and failed on all counts. Although it is undoubtedly true that Rozhestvensky was ill served by his country on numerous counts, diplomacy, intelligence, and overall military command, Rozhestvensky's methods did little to actually promote discipline or increase effectiveness. In this, his quite open affair with a woman nurse on the hospital ship OREL (if true) was not likely to improve discipline. Further, in the critical day of the battle, not unlike Japanese admiral Kurita 39 years later at the Battle of Samar, Rozhestvensky made the critical error of being caught out in the wrong formation and unable to reform in time to fight the enemy. What is most compelling about this book, and it has the ring of truth even though I am not sure if it is or not, is Pleshakov's claims regarding the shambolic nature of the Russian overseas spy network and the claim that provocateurs were planting stories for the Russians to hear about Japanese torpedo boats lying in wait to ambush the Baltic Fleet as soon as it passed Denmark and entered the North Sea, stories that, according to Pleshakov helped spark Russian paranoia which led to the tragic Dogger Bank incident, where Rozhestvensky's ships fired on British fishing trawlers who they thought to be attacking Japanese torpedo boats. That Roshestvensky or anyone could seriously consider it feasible for the Japanese, on short notice, to have a squadron of torpedo boats ready 18,000 miles from Japan to attack the Russians is beyond ludicrous. That Rozhestvensky gave the order to fire is to me further proof of his incompetence as a naval commander. Thus, no matter how hard Pleshakov tries to redeem Rozhestvensky, and even Pleshakov seems to give up on this about halfway through the book, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that Rozhestvensky had much to do with the debacle of Tsushima, but he had plenty of help in the Russian high command. What Pleshakov has done is to produce a book that reads extremely well, despite the fact that his first language is Russian, not English. In terms of non-native language use, Pleshakov's vocabulary contains numerous infelicities, I got extremely tired, for instance, of his aforementioned misuse of "torpedo boat" as well as the redundant and all too frequently used compound "artillery guns". Generally, the accepted terms are: just "guns", or maybe "naval guns", or very rarely, "naval artillery". Further, in many cases he is talking not about the smaller close defense guns mounted on a ship but its "main battery" of "large-caliber guns". Yet, despite these awkward labels, I found that the book flowed very well and that all too many writers whose native language is English could pay heed to Pleshakov's style which is very good. He kept the story moving the entire time and yet was never at any point overly rushed. I am not sure how much is true, but I plan to retain this book for its prose style alone. This makes this book rather unusual because usually books with dubious facts have execrable writing as well, and even a good many books with solid facts are horribly written. This book is excellently written but is also perhaps heavy on the blarney. All I can say is, enjoy but "caveat emptor"!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Greg Schroeder

    Constantine Pleshakov's book is subtitled "The Epic Voyage to the Battle of Tsushima" and is truly a book of the 18,000+ nautical mile journey of the main Russian fleet under Admiral Rozhestvensky from the Baltic to its fateful meeting with Admiral Togo and the Japanese fleet. Pleshakov concentrates on the personalities of Rozhestvensky and his subordinates as well as the top members of the Russian government. He hints that if the leaders in St. Petersburg had allowed Rozhestvensky to do what he Constantine Pleshakov's book is subtitled "The Epic Voyage to the Battle of Tsushima" and is truly a book of the 18,000+ nautical mile journey of the main Russian fleet under Admiral Rozhestvensky from the Baltic to its fateful meeting with Admiral Togo and the Japanese fleet. Pleshakov concentrates on the personalities of Rozhestvensky and his subordinates as well as the top members of the Russian government. He hints that if the leaders in St. Petersburg had allowed Rozhestvensky to do what he wished the outcome may have been different. Far from the classical story of ships who left Russia piled high with coal and sailing urgently around the world to plunge unprepared into a hopeless battle, Pleshakov tells of long delays and lost opportunities, of bungled intelligence, and of political weakness and indecision. He also seems to share Rozhestvensky's view that the reinforcements he was forced to wait for actually weakened the squadron instead of strengthening it and that the level of talent in the upper naval officers of the Tsar's navy was minimal with very few competent leaders of rank captain or above. There is also a fair handling of the wide class distinctions and the resulting political unrest in Russia as a whole, in the navy in general, and the "last armada" particularly. Pleshakov discusses this discrepancy in each situation the fleet found itself in, from forming to its ultimate destruction and the aftermath for the survivors. In the end even Rozhestvensky comes off wanting. I found the book interesting and found it debunked, as noted above, some long-held misconceptions. It pays scant attention to the battle itself; if you want a battle history you do need to go elsewhere. It is a good stand-alone historical story; one needs no previous knowledge of the Russo-Japanese War, Tsushima, or the period to get the full impact of the book. It is also inexpensive. Copies are available on Biblio for as little as $3.97 including shipping.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Gary Brecht

    Here we have an excellent follow-up for military history buffs who wish to delve deeper into aspects of the Russo-Japanese War. Pleshakov narrates the harrowing and frustrating journey of the Tsar’s 3rd Pacific Fleet. Under the command of “Mad Dog” Zinovy Petrovitch Rozhestvensky, the Russian armada sets out from the Baltic, circumnavigates the African continent, and waits for several excruciating weeks in Madagascar while his adversary, Admiral Togo repairs his fleet at home. Frustrated by his Here we have an excellent follow-up for military history buffs who wish to delve deeper into aspects of the Russo-Japanese War. Pleshakov narrates the harrowing and frustrating journey of the Tsar’s 3rd Pacific Fleet. Under the command of “Mad Dog” Zinovy Petrovitch Rozhestvensky, the Russian armada sets out from the Baltic, circumnavigates the African continent, and waits for several excruciating weeks in Madagascar while his adversary, Admiral Togo repairs his fleet at home. Frustrated by his own admiralty for insisting that the fleet await the arrival of reinforcements (mostly older vessels and yachts of the Romanovs), and hounded by the British navy (allies of the Japanese), Rozhestvensky demonstrates steadfast loyalty and determination. He knows the Japanese navy has superior strength and he’s aware they have had far more combat experience than his own seamen, and yet he doggedly forges ahead. Finally the climactic battle occurs in May of 1905 in the Tsushima Strait in the Sea of Japan. It is an utter defeat for the brave and determined admiral of the Russian armada. Only three of thirty-eight Russian warships make it to Vladivostok. Rozhestvenk’s flagship, the Suvarov is sunk, but not before he is rescued by one of his torpedo boats. This story is told in a straightforward and entertaining manner. Almost more interesting than the details of the battle are the personalities of the combatants, the spies and the Russian nobility. Afterward I wanted to read more by this author.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Carbone

    A really drab, dreary and excuse-filled book into the floundering Russian Empire's embarrassing Navy, up to its defeat at the battle of Tsushima. The book is doubly bad for all the excuses the author uses for Russian Admiral, Zinovy Rozhestvensky, who - even with the author's desperate appologist leanings- comes across as incompetent, bumbling and utterly out of his depth. The book does only one thing well- and even that is only in passing -and that is describing the ascendancy of the Japanese N A really drab, dreary and excuse-filled book into the floundering Russian Empire's embarrassing Navy, up to its defeat at the battle of Tsushima. The book is doubly bad for all the excuses the author uses for Russian Admiral, Zinovy Rozhestvensky, who - even with the author's desperate appologist leanings- comes across as incompetent, bumbling and utterly out of his depth. The book does only one thing well- and even that is only in passing -and that is describing the ascendancy of the Japanese Navy. Overall, I would avoid this book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tim Martin

    An interesting account of one of the great (and like so many things Russian, ultimately doomed) naval expeditions in world history, the sending of multiple squadrons of Russian naval vessels during the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) ranging from top of the line battleships to cruisers, torpedo boats, and transports to hospital ships to old vessels that were brought (or sent) despite the wishes of various admirals some 18,000 miles, from the Baltic Sea all the way around Europe, around Africa (th An interesting account of one of the great (and like so many things Russian, ultimately doomed) naval expeditions in world history, the sending of multiple squadrons of Russian naval vessels during the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) ranging from top of the line battleships to cruisers, torpedo boats, and transports to hospital ships to old vessels that were brought (or sent) despite the wishes of various admirals some 18,000 miles, from the Baltic Sea all the way around Europe, around Africa (though some ships sailed through the Mediterranean Sea and used the Suez Canal), past Madagascar, across the Indian Ocean, past Singapore, all the way north to the Korea Strait and their fateful rendezvous with the Japanese navy at the Battle of Tsushima. A rendezvous where the Russian fleet of 50 vessels was pretty much obliterated at the cost of relatively light losses for the Japanese, with in the end only a handful of Russian vessels escaping sinking or capture by making their way to either Vladivostok or a few to my surprise to the Philippines (and the death of thousands of Russian men versus barely over a hundred Japanese lives lost). The vast majority of the book is about the start and course of this incredible journey, with the Battle of Tsushima, though well covered, only appearing in the text at around page 270 or so. Even then only a relatively few number of pages are devoted to the battle itself compared to how much of the text is on the journey, with in later chapters the author covering the consequences of the battle and the fates of various ships, ship crews, and officers after the war ended. Most of the book is on the enormous challenges faced in getting such a ragtag group of ships (not all sent out at one time), dealing with getting stocked with coal, food, and other supplies, getting and receiving telegrams from an increasingly distant St. Petersburg, the lack of support from the Russian diplomatic service and Russia’s supposed allies abroad, the enormous deficit of Russian intelligence sources and agents abroad, the fleet dealing with bad weather, bad food, disease, malfunctioning equipment, poorly trained crews lacking the ammunition to effectively practice, mischief in foreign ports by Russian sailors and officers on leave (they brought a surprisingly large number of exotic animals like pythons and monkeys on board their ships among many other things they did), the difficulties in the various Russian ships rendezvousing in distant seas, the very long delays on the route which weakened Russian resources while giving the Japanese time to repair and resupply their ships (two months were wasted in Madagascar and another month in French Indochina despite Rozhestvensky’s desires), constant worries about spies and shadowing Japanese torpedo boats (feared to be waiting in the darkness everywhere from the Baltic Sea to the North Sea to off the coast of Africa and leading to a diplomatic crisis on the Dogger Bank off England when the Russians mistook some British fishing vessels for Japanese torpedo boats and fired at them), an expedition many thought was doomed from the start or if not, ultimately futile, as on route (as many predicted) the Russian forces the fleet was sent to relive at Port Arthur in China ultimately capitulated to Japanese forces. Though some time is spent at various points in the book on Admiral Togo Heihachiro, architect of the Russian defeat at Tsushima, the vast majority of the book is from the view of the Russian fleet and largely centered on one man, the commander of the bulk of the vessels (different groups when they weren’t together with the main fleet had their own commanding admirals, if only for a temporary time). The star of the book far and away was Admiral Petrovich Rozhestvensky, with the author producing a bit of a biography of the man before largely detailing the story of the expedition from the point of view of Rozhestvensky. We learn a lot about him – his family life, the action he saw in the Russo-Turkish War, his role in modernizing the Bulgarian navy, serving as the Russian naval attaché in London – and though I can’t say he was always a truly likable man, at least this reader developed a good deal of sympathy for him, given a nearly impossible task, sailing off to a war he had a strong suspicion he will lose, all with at times ambivalent if not contradictory orders from St. Petersburg. It was interesting getting to know some of the ships of Rozhestvensky’s fleet (especially his 2nd Pacific Squadron, the bulk of the ships that went to Tsushima). A few I got to know either as vessels or to know as crews and officers, such as the cruiser Aurora (one of the Rozhestvensky’s favorite vessels, considering it the epitome of the navy he wanted to have and its officer and crew model examples), the torpedo boat Bedovy (its name meaning “reckless,” was the ship Rozehstvensky was carried to severely wounded after the battle was lost), and the Prince Suvorov (in most of the book called the Suvorov, one of the five modern battleships of the 2nd Pacific Squadron and Rozhestvensky’s flagship). However, there were too many ships to get to know well and all but a couple had no illustrations in the photographs included. Also, though the book was not really dedicated to the battle, it would have been nice to have charts or diagrams showing the formation of the Russian vessels in the conflict. Some interesting takeaways from the book include the rather close relationship between the various royal families in Europe – Russia, Denmark, Greece, the United Kingdom – how not only did the various monarchs and their extended families know each other well but were often close relatives. Espionage was definitely in its infancy as a tool of statecraft and often very amateurish, with often foreigners employed instead of people from say Russia, many of the spies either very much inexperienced or uneducated in what they were reporting on or rewarded for reporting sensational rumors (no one got paid for continual reports of “the coast is clear” again and again), and that the only services in the book that seemed to have decent spy rings were the British (who were doing all they could to help the Japanese short of firing at Russian vessels) and the Russian police (who were your man so to speak if you wanted to find out about revolutionaries in Russia or Europe but not so helpful on naval matters as it just wasn’t their thing). Another takeaway was that even though telegrams existed that didn’t exactly mean instantaneous communication, as waiting in some tropical ports for say 5 days for a response wasn’t in the least bit unusual. Also reports could become garbled, cables were cut accidently quite easily, and using telegrams was often hardly secret. Though radio was now present on some naval vessels the technology was still quite primitive, ranges short, not all ships had it, and radio could be jammed, with as a result for stretches of time when the Russian fleet was at sea no one had any way of knowing where they were or of reaching them, with the best the Russian admiralty could do was to try to have agents and telegrams waiting at ports they hoped the fleet would visit (and not always knowing what ports would be visited). Also smoke on the horizon from approaching ships were almost always a mystery to ships at sea, with lookouts having to look for flags or have been trained to recognize the various naval vessels of the world. Despite the existence of telegrams and radio it still felt a lot like the age of sail (though worse perhaps, as the ships were so tightly bound by the need to bring on coal again and again). I gather from reading the book jacket and various reviews the author is not a native English speaker but rather was originally raised as a Russian speaker. The vast majority of the time this does not present any problems. A few times some word or phrase choices were unusual, such as saying artillery guns for the guns on ships (I knew what he meant but not exactly correct phrasing), a few times getting stuck on a certain word (splinters was used a lot rather than shrapnel, with the word shrapnel only appearing a couple of times, and awesome was used a lot to indicate this or that admiral or ship was impressive or awe inspiring), and going back and forth a little on whether something was a torpedo boat (by far the most commonly used terminology) or a destroyer. I think in the end author Constantine Pleshakov being a Russian speaker was probably an enormous bonus as he had a much better understanding and access to primary sources in Russian (the extensive end notes mention many uses of information from among other places the Russian State Naval Archives and the State Archives of the Russian Federation). There are black and white photos and illustrations, a series of maps, and an extensive index.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Keith W

    I found the story about the Russian Baltic Fleet's long voyage from the Kronstadt Naval Base to the Far East to be rather boring so I was just going to give this book three stars but then the author surprised me with his interesting and rather skillful account of the Battle of Tsushima Strait and subsequent events so I improved my rating. The book's central figure is fleet commander Adm. Ziony Rozhestvensky (known by many of his men and others as "Mad Dog"), an intense disciplinarian without who I found the story about the Russian Baltic Fleet's long voyage from the Kronstadt Naval Base to the Far East to be rather boring so I was just going to give this book three stars but then the author surprised me with his interesting and rather skillful account of the Battle of Tsushima Strait and subsequent events so I improved my rating. The book's central figure is fleet commander Adm. Ziony Rozhestvensky (known by many of his men and others as "Mad Dog"), an intense disciplinarian without whose drive, leadership and commitment to duty, the long voyage probably could not have been completed. Despite his strengths, Adm. Rozhestvensky was tactically outmaneuvered by Japanese Adm. Togo at Tsushima, resulting in the destruction of the newest Russian battleships, without which the Baltic squadron was no match for Togo's ships. I never knew what happened after that so it was interesting to read how some of the remaining Russian ships were surrounded and forced to surrender while a few others escaped, with three cruisers even making their way all the way back to the Baltic. This well-written book sheds light on a neglected aspect of naval history and is well worth reading. I wonder whether a non-Russian author could have done as good a job with the story and I tend to doubt it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jerome

    An engaging, compelling and well-researched history of the battle for Tsushima Straits, mostly from the Russian side. The book is focused on the people involved more than the technical aspects. Pleshakov ably describes the Russian side’s corruption and incompetence, and how Rozhestvensky’s honesty and ability were outmatched by a lack of support from his subordinates and superiors. He also covers all the famous incidents like the fleet’s firing on British fishing trawlers at Dogger Bank, the conf An engaging, compelling and well-researched history of the battle for Tsushima Straits, mostly from the Russian side. The book is focused on the people involved more than the technical aspects. Pleshakov ably describes the Russian side’s corruption and incompetence, and how Rozhestvensky’s honesty and ability were outmatched by a lack of support from his subordinates and superiors. He also covers all the famous incidents like the fleet’s firing on British fishing trawlers at Dogger Bank, the confrontation with the Portuguese, and the trouble caused whenever his sailors landed. He also describes how committed the tsar was to the mission, even after Port Arthur fell. The narrative is clear but can get a bit disjointed. Some more description and analysis on the actual battle, and on logistics, would have helped, and there is little on the Japanese side. There are only four maps, and their quality is not particularly good. The book also seems to indulge in trivia at times. There are also a couple typos (guess what was written instead of "seamen," for example) A rich, well-written, and well-paced work.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    A solid and thoughtful chronicle of one of the strangest and most depressing episodes in naval history. When Japan wounded, blockaded, and eventually destroyed Russia's Pacific fleet, the Tsar hatched the bizarre plan to send the Baltic fleet on an 18,000 mile voyage for a rematch with the victorious Japanese. Hampered by politics, diplomacy, ancient ships, untrained crews, and an insane mission, Admiral Zinovy Rozhestvensky kept his fleet together under nearly impossible conditions, only to be A solid and thoughtful chronicle of one of the strangest and most depressing episodes in naval history. When Japan wounded, blockaded, and eventually destroyed Russia's Pacific fleet, the Tsar hatched the bizarre plan to send the Baltic fleet on an 18,000 mile voyage for a rematch with the victorious Japanese. Hampered by politics, diplomacy, ancient ships, untrained crews, and an insane mission, Admiral Zinovy Rozhestvensky kept his fleet together under nearly impossible conditions, only to be slaughtered by superior Japanese forces upon arriving in East Asia. It's the Odyssey of the Dour and Damned. Only people who are already interested in military or perhaps nautical history will want to read this book, but it illuminates and important and really weird episode that is largely overlooked from the years before World War I and the Russian Revolution.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dan Mccarthy

    This book is about exactly what the title says: the journey to Tsushima. A majority of the book follows the 2nd Pacific Squadron as it makes it's long voyage to the Pacific from the Baltic Sea. However the battle itself is comparatively short compared to the 3/4's of the book buildup. The battle itself and the end of the war only take up about 70 pages of the 340 page book. I also wanted more context regarding the land battles occurring while the fleet was making it's long journey. This book mas This book is about exactly what the title says: the journey to Tsushima. A majority of the book follows the 2nd Pacific Squadron as it makes it's long voyage to the Pacific from the Baltic Sea. However the battle itself is comparatively short compared to the 3/4's of the book buildup. The battle itself and the end of the war only take up about 70 pages of the 340 page book. I also wanted more context regarding the land battles occurring while the fleet was making it's long journey. This book masters the journey it focuses on, but does not provide the context of the larger war.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Darryl Updegrove

    Very interesting story leading up to a short but decisive battle.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Billy

    The story of the epic voyage of the Russian Baltic Fleet to its disastrous fate at the Battle of Tsushima. The author is a native Russian with access to Russian and British archives, but not Japanese ones. As such, the story is exclusively told from the viewpoint of the European powers involved in the Russo-Japanese War. The book is well-written and a fast read, though sometimes the language is bit non-idiomatic both for English and naval parlance (i.e., referring to junior naval enlisted as "pri The story of the epic voyage of the Russian Baltic Fleet to its disastrous fate at the Battle of Tsushima. The author is a native Russian with access to Russian and British archives, but not Japanese ones. As such, the story is exclusively told from the viewpoint of the European powers involved in the Russo-Japanese War. The book is well-written and a fast read, though sometimes the language is bit non-idiomatic both for English and naval parlance (i.e., referring to junior naval enlisted as "privates" vice "seamen"). This book is not a battle history of Tsushima. There are no maneuver maps of the battle. Even the maps of the voyage from the Baltic to the Korea Straits are very sketchy. A major weakness. Also, at no point does he tell you the capabilities of either fleets: the displacement of the Mikasa, what caliber guns the Suvorov carried, the range of the torpedoes on the Japanese boats, etc. In fact, very few of the Japanese ships in the battle are even mentioned by name. The author does delve heavily into the personalities of the Russian fleet and political apparatus with guest appearances from the royal families of England and Germany, which makes for interesting if not salacious reading. An enjoyable but flawed read meant for the layman not the naval historian.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    For the Russian military enthusiast. I can't stress this enough. Constantine Pleshakov's logistics-filled tome is great for facts and stats and a timeline stretched out in quasi-narrative form, but not so much for story. The Tsar's Last Armada: The Epic Journey to the Battle of Tsushima is the title of the book. However, it really is about Zinovy Petrovich Rozhestvensky, an admiral of the Imperial Russian Navy. This is his story and I had to grasp onto his thread throughout the 300+ pages to inv For the Russian military enthusiast. I can't stress this enough. Constantine Pleshakov's logistics-filled tome is great for facts and stats and a timeline stretched out in quasi-narrative form, but not so much for story. The Tsar's Last Armada: The Epic Journey to the Battle of Tsushima is the title of the book. However, it really is about Zinovy Petrovich Rozhestvensky, an admiral of the Imperial Russian Navy. This is his story and I had to grasp onto his thread throughout the 300+ pages to invest myself at all. I find the inclusion of "Tsar" in the title to be misleading/misplaced. I do, however, see some sort of fiction rewrite contained within these pages... Mad Dog and the Sea? Rozhestvensky's Revenge? Nothin' a Little Vodka & Meat Can't Solve!? If you were so inspired by this book, please feel free to use any of the aforementioned titles free of charge. Pozhalusta in advance.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rick Eng

    Excellent recount of the events leading up to a significant battle in naval history and a major disaster for Russia. What was most striking was the sense of doom that permeated the Tsar's officers and sailors, most notably the man selected to shepherd the imperial fleet 18,000 miles from the Baltic to the Pacific, Admiral Rozehestvensky. I sensed parallels between him and Duke of Medina Sidonia, the man King Philip II of Spain chose to lead the armada to its infamous defeat. An intelligent and t Excellent recount of the events leading up to a significant battle in naval history and a major disaster for Russia. What was most striking was the sense of doom that permeated the Tsar's officers and sailors, most notably the man selected to shepherd the imperial fleet 18,000 miles from the Baltic to the Pacific, Admiral Rozehestvensky. I sensed parallels between him and Duke of Medina Sidonia, the man King Philip II of Spain chose to lead the armada to its infamous defeat. An intelligent and thoughtful leader, the Duke like the Russian admiral understood the challenges and impracticality of the plans that inspired their mnarchs however fueled by incompetent courtiers. with Tsushima, Rozehestvensky should be credited for holding together his motley fleet through hostile waters and unforgiving climates. Part of the tragedy is the battle had begun arpund 2:00pm and before nightfall, most of the Russian battleships were at the bottle of the straights. My only criticism of the book is with the illustrations. No where do we see the battleships involved, not even Admiral Togo's flagship, the Mikasa.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Juniper Shore

    It's really hard to find any in-depth histories of the Russo-Japanese War, although that may be my problem, since I don't read either Russian or Japanese. Still, this is a war that more Americans should know about: it marked the first time in centuries that an east Asian nation defeated a major European power; it began the rise of Japan and the fall of Tsarist Russia; the United States played a significant role in ending it, serving notice to the world that America was a rising power in its own It's really hard to find any in-depth histories of the Russo-Japanese War, although that may be my problem, since I don't read either Russian or Japanese. Still, this is a war that more Americans should know about: it marked the first time in centuries that an east Asian nation defeated a major European power; it began the rise of Japan and the fall of Tsarist Russia; the United States played a significant role in ending it, serving notice to the world that America was a rising power in its own right. The book is well-written and captivating. You have to feel for the hapless crews of the Russian expeditionary force, (view spoiler)[who know perfectly well they are going to their deaths (hide spoiler)] . Pleshakov has some harsh words for the Tsar's government, and he seems to imply the country got what it deserved at the Battle of Tsushima. The author's note explains that he could not use Japanese sources during his research, which is unfortunate, since I think we would benefit from seeing the climax from the other side. Still, this is by far the best introduction to the war that I've ever seen.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    A story of the quixotic attack by the Russian navy in 1904 against the Japanese fleet, by sailing halfway around the world from The North Sea all the way around Africa to the coast of Korea and the Sea of Japan, where it was spectacularly destroyed by the Japanese fleet and Admiral Togo. It started out as a rescue mission for the Russian Port Arthur on the western shores of Korea , then when that fell before they got there, a race to Vladivlastok and ending at the Russian fleets destruction at T A story of the quixotic attack by the Russian navy in 1904 against the Japanese fleet, by sailing halfway around the world from The North Sea all the way around Africa to the coast of Korea and the Sea of Japan, where it was spectacularly destroyed by the Japanese fleet and Admiral Togo. It started out as a rescue mission for the Russian Port Arthur on the western shores of Korea , then when that fell before they got there, a race to Vladivlastok and ending at the Russian fleets destruction at Tsushima straights. My problem with the book was 3/4 of it were about the herculean task of getting there and the last quarter was on the battle and the aftermath. It also tended to make excuse after excuse for why the Russian navy did so poorly. The author had access to the Russian and British archives on the subject but did not access the Japanese archives at all so half of the story was left untold. This is however the only book I have been able to find on this particular subject and with that as it is, I would recommend it as an interesting read for anyone who likes naval history.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    Constantine Pleshakov details the causes of the failures of the Imperial Russian Navy at the turn of the 20th century and does so very well. I was apalled at the lack of forethought that Czar Nicholas II put into his tactical desisions. To send an entire fleet of substandard warships with mostly untrained and undiciplined crews halfway around the world to recapture a derelect port from a superior enemy is madness! Admiral Roztvensky did his absolute best to carry out his campaign but the Imperia Constantine Pleshakov details the causes of the failures of the Imperial Russian Navy at the turn of the 20th century and does so very well. I was apalled at the lack of forethought that Czar Nicholas II put into his tactical desisions. To send an entire fleet of substandard warships with mostly untrained and undiciplined crews halfway around the world to recapture a derelect port from a superior enemy is madness! Admiral Roztvensky did his absolute best to carry out his campaign but the Imperial Japanese Navy proved to be too much as he was sent home in disgrace. This epic tactical failure explains in part why the Russian people demanded a new form of government. This book was well written and I highly recommend it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    In this well written and concise book, one the greatest voyages of all time and its fateful conclusion is told. In the battle of Tsushima, the heart of the Imperial Russian Navy's Baltic Fleet was destroyed by another great navy of the time, that of the Empire of Japan. This is no military history per se. While the battle is relayed, the book is focused on the extremely long voyage from the Baltic all the way around Africa, through the Indies, and finally to the straights between Korea and Japan In this well written and concise book, one the greatest voyages of all time and its fateful conclusion is told. In the battle of Tsushima, the heart of the Imperial Russian Navy's Baltic Fleet was destroyed by another great navy of the time, that of the Empire of Japan. This is no military history per se. While the battle is relayed, the book is focused on the extremely long voyage from the Baltic all the way around Africa, through the Indies, and finally to the straights between Korea and Japan where the battle took place. This is the central focus. What the sailors, officers, and people involved with the Russian fleet experienced. Its a great book and read very well. I recommend it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    George Serebrennikov

    The book is about the great and disastrous voyage of the Russian navy across the globe, as part of Russian-Japanese war of 1904-1905 that ends at Tsushima strait, just few hundred miles away from the intended destination. The book is not a well rounded research since by the author's own admission, is based sole on information available from European archives, ignoring Japan's archives completely. However, the book is very well written and provides an excellent overview of pre-revolutionary Russi The book is about the great and disastrous voyage of the Russian navy across the globe, as part of Russian-Japanese war of 1904-1905 that ends at Tsushima strait, just few hundred miles away from the intended destination. The book is not a well rounded research since by the author's own admission, is based sole on information available from European archives, ignoring Japan's archives completely. However, the book is very well written and provides an excellent overview of pre-revolutionary Russia, with corrupt and incapable government, nepotism, cowardliness and un-professionalism of what supposed to be the country elite, and abyss between social classes.

  23. 5 out of 5

    William Taylor

    A master recounting of the incredible tale of 50 Russian warships which spent 9 months steaming from Russia to a disastrous fate by the hands of the Japanese navy in 1905 in the straits of Tsushima. The battle was essentially over in 30 minutes with most of the Russian ships sunk or reduced to burning hulks. Author Pleshakov tells the tale of diplomatic ineptitudes, clashing naval personalities and incredible hardships met along the way.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Fred Dameron

    Quick read. Opens up a new view of why the Russians got destroyed at Tushimo. Togo had more good luck than he should have. The Tsar interfered to much with Rodzenevsky in trying to micro manage the fleets actions prior to the battle. Also Allies weren't very allied like in lack of support for the Russian cause .

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ned Leffingwell

    This was full of things that I like; imperial hubris, shifty diplomacy, and naval battles. The description of Russia's navy crippled by classism, bureaucracy, and blind devotion to monarchy was engaging.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Bruce

    Absorbing story of the Battle of Tsushima, wherein the Japanese sank the entire Russian navy.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Awful, simply awful. Don't waste your time or money on this book. I will be donating my copy to the dust bin.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Arvid Jakobsson

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

  30. 4 out of 5

    Arlomisty

    This was a great book... I would recommend it to anyone interested in this time period of history.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.