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Biography & Autobiography Military

Churchill and Fisher

The titans at the Admiralty who fought the First World War

by (author) Barry Gough

James Lorimer & Company Ltd., Publishers
Initial publish date
Oct 2017
Military, Naval, 20th Century, World War I
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2017
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Oct 2017
    List Price

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A vivid study of the politics and stress of high command, this book describes the decisive roles of young Winston Churchill as political head of the Admiralty during the First World War. Churchill was locked together in a perilous destiny with the ageing British Admiral 'Jacky' Fisher, the professional master of the British Navy and the creator of the enormous battleships known as Dreadnoughts. Upon these 'Titans at the Admiralty' rested British command of the sea at the moment of its supreme test — the challenge presented by the Kaiser's navy under the dangerous Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz.

Churchill and Fisher had vision, genius, and energy, but the war unfolded in unexpected ways. There were no Trafalgars, no Nelsons. Press and Parliament became battlegrounds for a public expecting decisive victory at sea. An ill-fated Dardanelles adventure, 'by ships alone' as Churchill determined, on top of the Zeppelin raids on Britain brought about Fisher's departure from the Admiralty, in turn bringing down Churchill. They spent the balance of the war in the virtual wilderness.

This dual biography, based on fresh and thorough appraisal of the Churchill and Fisher papers, is a story for any military history buff. It is about Churchill's and Fisher's war — how each fought it, how they waged it together, and how they fought against each other, face to face or behind the scenes. It reveals a strange and unique pairing of sea lords who found themselves facing Armageddon and seeking to maintain the primacy of the Royal Navy, the guardian of trade, the succour of the British peoples, and the shield of Empire.


About the author

Dr. Barry Gough, one of Canada's foremost historians, is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, Fellow of King's College London and Life Member of the Association of Canadian Studies, and has been awarded a Doctor of Letters for distinguished contributions to Imperial and Commonwealth history. He is well recognized for the authenticity of his research and the engaging nature of his narratives, and is the author of many critically acclaimed books, including Fortune's A River: The Collision of Empires in Northwest America (Harbour, 2007), which won the John Lyman Book Award for best Canadian naval and maritime history and was shortlisted for the Writers' Trust Non-Fiction Prize. Gough has been writing for almost four decades. He lives in Victoria, BC, with his wife, Marilyn.

Barry Gough's profile page


  • Short-listed, The Mountbatten Award for Best Book - Martime Media Awards

Editorial Reviews

"Churchill and Fisher: The Titans at the Admiralty who Fought the First World War by Barry Gough is a brilliant study of the relationship between these two gigantic figures. It is lucidly written, thoroughly researched, and convincingly argued; an essential book for students of Churchill, Fisher, the Dardanelles, and the Royal Navy in the Great War."

A Blog On Winston Churchill

"Gough's work is based on a wide use of primary sources and is well written providing many valuable insights ... this book is highly recommended."

Finest Hour

"This work is an impressive re-evaluation of the Churchill and Fisher papers that includes two very helpful photo-plate sections — Very Highly Recommended."

FIRE Reviews

Churchill and Fisher is an exhaustive account of the careers of two men who came together to help lead the United Kingdom's fight in the First World War.

Victoria Times Colonist

"Churchill and Fisher is an impeccably researched, valuable contribution to British naval history and studies of the First World War era."

The Ormsby Review

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