Among warships cruisers may lack the power of battleships and the mystery of submarines, but their combination of speed and firepower made them vital components of most major navies for much of the twentieth century. Though ostensibly about the Royal Navy's cruiser force during the Second World War, Alan Raven and John Roberts provide in this book a far more comprehensive compilation, one that begins with the pre-First World War Arethusa class and concludes with the postwar completions of wartime programs. Its coverage is encyclopedic, detailing their design histories, the construction and trials of the warships, and the modifications they underwent over the course of their service lives.
Supplemented by numerous tables and generously illustrated with photographs and line drawings, Raven and Roberts's book is an invaluable technical resource for anyone interested in the subject. Yet where the authors fall short is in detailing the war service of these vessels. Such coverage is actually provided in the early chapters, which describe the cruisers that served in the First World War. This makes the absence of similar coverage for their successors in the Second World War -- the titular focus of the work -- particularly glaring. Readers seeking a more comprehensive analysis would do well to supplement this book with Norman Friedman's more recent British Cruisers: Two World Wars and After which, while not as well supplemented with pictures, nonetheless provides a more useful narrative analysis of its subject.