Andidora tells the story of four men who successfully commanded battlefleets in the 20th century: Japan’s Heihachiro Togo, England’s John Jellicoe, and America’s William Halsey and Raymond Spruance. This study provides personality profiles and detailed accounts of their major battles. Analyzing their command decisions based on what each commander knew or could have reasonably inferred at the time decisions were made, Andidora compares their accomplishments to those of Horatio Nelson, who delivered stunning naval victories for England during the Napoleonic Wars. However, he concludes that the Nelsonian standard is inappropriate in the modern naval environment due to the increased size and technological complexity of modern fleets and the political imperative to preserve costly and strategically significant naval assets.
Trained in England and acquiring the skill and spirit of Nelson’s heirs, Togo annihilated his Russian opponents at the Battle of Tsushima in the Russo-Japanese War and, therefore, produced the 20th century’s only facsimile of Nelson’s Trafalgar. Despite heavy losses against a numerically inferior German Navy at Jutland, Jellicoe’s single-minded adherence to an unpopular strategy would prove instrumental in achieving final victory in the First World War. Although strikingly different in personality and leadership style, Halsey and Spruance would both do their part in the naval battles of the Second World War. In the Battle of the Philippine Sea, Spruance would deal Japanese naval aviation a blow from which it would never recover; while at the Battle of Leyte Gulf, Halsey would essentially eliminate the Japanese navy as an effective fighting force.