The SMS Emden had to be stopped, plain and simple. World War I had only been going for a few months now – not even a year – and already the Emden was wreaking havoc on British shipping. It had only been in recent years that Australia had built up a navy of their own. The HMAS Sydney had been launched the same year Titanic sunk (1912 – as a Titanic Buff I felt the need to throw that one in there). Now two years later she was going to hunt out the troublesome Emden and put a stop to the disruptions the Germans were causing. No easy task, mind you. The Emden had done serious damage on land and on sea; she had attacked a British Indian port and caused considerable damage physically and moral-wise. When the Sydney eventually located the Emden it would be a brutal fight to the end.
Mile Carlton does a good job of setting the backdrop of what Australia was like during World War I while giving sufficient background information of conditions prior to the war (e.g. Australian navy’s development) – so those of without knowledge of these events can understand it well enough without needing to read other Aussie history books. There was a section or two I took issue with, but overlooking that, this is indeed worth a read. I have a fascination with the World War I navies to begin with, plus a particular interest in Australia so it all blended together well. I found the account of the fight between the Sydney and the Emden fascinating as well as gruesome. Mr. Carlton manages to bring into this story the human aspect . It’s not so much facts, dates and events as it is personalities (I’m a sucker for human interest) and I think that’s what I liked most about First Victory: 1914.
As a side note I love the cover art.
DISCLAIMER: In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising” we would like to note that we received an electronic copy of “First Victory: 1914” from NetGalley.com provided by the publishers, Random House Australia Pty Ltd, in exchange for our honest review.