University of South Carolina, Columbia, S.C., 1st.ed., 1998. Xi + 213 pp, 6 maps. D.j., 24 x 16cm. FINE. During the War of American Independence (1775-1783) the Royal Navy found itself up against the navies of France, Spain and Holland in addition to revolutionary American vessels – the extent of the latter, as the author points out, underestimated in London. Professor Syrett examines the British failure in European waters and lays primary blame on the lack of political leadership. Various power-shifts within government led to constant vacillations in policy and strategy and failed to provide the Royal Navy with the strategic guidance required for a successful campaign. The author concludes that Britain’s failure to gain naval superiority in European waters had a profound effect across the Atlantic. This failure led to American blockade runners being able to collect arms and ammunition from Europe, aided by the ships of France and Spain who were able to conduct naval operations as far away as the West Indies and the Indian Ocean. A study comprising of five chapters, (1) The Failure to Mobilize for War, 1775-77. (2) Keppel and the Channel Fleet, 1778. (3) The Attempted Franco-Spanish Invasion and the First Relief of Gibraltar, 1779-80. (4) Neutrals, Naval Stores, and the Royal Navy, 1778-82. (5) The Channel Fleet Holds the Line, 1780-82. FINE copy.