The astonishingly effective campaign waged by a handful of Confederate raiders during the Civil War was keenly watched in France and Russia, and above all in Britain. In the fifty years which followed, the most sensitive area in the balance of naval power was the potential damage to worldwide commerce which could be caused by raiders. The steel-built protected cruiser, as a warship type, was evolved to counter this threat. Many countries engaged in the development of cruisers, some to give force to the threat, and some for commerce protection.
This book reviews the field, and in the last chapters it describes the experience of the ships in action, culminating in the cruiser battles of 1914 -15. Before the end of 1915 the last of the kaiser's raiding cruisers had been destroyed, and Germany was obliged to switch to the use of submarines. There was a brief reprise in 1939.
Fifty-two paintings, together with thirty pencil sketches, diagrams, and maps, illustrate cruisers in the topographical settings in which they would have been seen in their day.