Now this was an unusual book. It dealt with the nuts and bolts of how aircraft carriers operate – from what happens in the cockpit to how aircraft and the ships that carry them actually work, to the battles they fought in. The book concludes with an analysis of various carrier design and combat tactics which I found very interesting.
Carriers tend to be approached either as historical objects or as tools used in significant historical actions. Some books deal with them from a design perspectives, but few deal with carrier tactics, much less analyze why the tactics were what they were, and whether they, the the ships' design, should have been otherwise.
Celander's book also discusses postwar developments to a certain extent, explaining how carriers developed postwar and why, and – I especially liked this part – why they would not have developed as they did had the wartime need for "deck-load" strikes persisted. It never occurred to me that angled decks only made sense if a carrier is constantly rotating aircraft, and would have been highly problematic had carriers still been launching massive strikes as was usually the case in naval combat. Celnader's book doesn't get into this, but had that need remained we might have seen carrier design divide into "rotating" air operations carriers, as we have now, with a few "battle" carriers which are designed to launch and land large numbers of aircraft in a short period of time, while protected by "rotating" carriers. WW II task forces did that by sometimes having certain carriers assigned to provide CAP (combat air patrol) while others launched strikes, but that isn't how modern air operations work.
All in all, a very interesting book.