Winners announced for the Duke of Westminster Medal for Military Literature 2015

22 November 2016 - Lord Hennessy and Dr James Jinks were today named as the latest recipients of its annual prize recognising the best book that makes a notable and original contribution to the study of international or national security, or the military professions.

The Duke of Westminster Medal is awarded by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) – the world’s oldest defence and security think tank – and the judges conferred Lord Hennessy of Nympsfield and Dr James Jinks the prize for their book, The Silent Deep: The Royal Navy Submarine Service since 1945, published by Allen Lane and Penguin.

The Silent Deep is the first authoritative history of the Submarine Service from the end of the Second World War to the current day. Focusing on the most secretive and mysterious of Britain’s armed forces, it gives the most complete account yet published of the development of Britain’s submarine fleet, its capabilities, its weapons, its infrastructure, its operations, and above all, what life is like on board.

The award presentation will be on 28 November 2016.

Baroness Neville-Jones, chair of the Medal’s Awarding Board, said:

'In the tradition of awards of the Westminster medal for military history, ‘The Silent Deep’ is high quality, well written history, eminently readable by both specialist and layman. It is not an official history but it is authoritative. The authors have used their access to official papers to trace carefully and in detail the story of the Royal Navy submarine service since 1945- not hitherto much written about - in a way that not only sets out technical and policy development during the Cold War but also paints a vivid picture of operational life under the sea. This work is much enriched by drawing on the diaries and personal recollections of many of those involved and is a first class example of how to write near contemporary history with judgement and perspective.'

The winning authors, Lord Hennessy of Nympsfield and Dr James Jinks, said:

‘As well as documenting the history of the Submarine Service from 1945 to the present, our goal in The Silent Deep was to shed light on the experiences of those who have served, and it is to them that the book is dedicated. It is accordingly a great honour to be awarded the 2016 Duke of Westminster's Medal by the Royal United Services Institute. Researching and writing about the Submarine Service was a tremendous experience, which took us from the archive to a Perisher course and back again, and we are profoundly grateful to all those who aided us along the way, as we are now to have won this medal.’

Professor Peter Hennessy, one of Britain's best-known historians, is Attlee Professor of History at Queen Mary, University of London. He is the author of Never Again: Britain 1945-51 (winner of the NCR and Duff Cooper Prizes) and the bestselling The Prime Minister and The Secret State: Preparing for the Worst 1945-2010. He was made an independent crossbench life peer in 2010.

Dr James Jinks completed his PhD under Peter Hennessy at Queen Mary. His first book was 50 Years of the Polaris Sales Agreement, commissioned by Her Majesty's Government to mark 50 years of Polaris. He is now at work on A Very British Bomb, a history of the British nuclear deterrent.

Stuart Proffitt, Publishing Director at Penguin said:

‘Allen Lane/Penguin are enormously proud to publish the winner of this year’s Duke of Westminster’s Medal for Military Literature. In The Silent Deep, Peter Hennessy and James Jinks have complemented each other perfectly in terms of research, interpretation, interviews and writing to produce what we believe is by some distance the best-informed book yet published on the British submarine fleet since 1945. Anyone concerned with British history since the Second World War will find that this history touches on their interests in one way or another – operations, economic and technical capacity (especially vis-à-vis the USA, particularly pertinent now), geostrategy, intelligence and infrastructure. The book has already been warmly received by submariners themselves: “for those who have never been in a submarine, reading this book is likely to be the next best thing.”’

Finally, Steve Mills, Head of Global Sales and Marketing, Secure Communications, Airbus DS (Royal Navy Submarine Service 1985-2001) said:

'UK Submarine Operations, shrouded in secrecy, has always captured and driven people’s imagination. One can only begin to understand the endless hours of research and data mining through hundreds and thousands of archives in order to bring this level of detail into the public eye. Airbus Defence and Space has always enjoyed an affinity with the UK Submarine service with the provision of advanced communications in support of essential operations, which still continues today.'

Created with the support of His Grace, The Duke of Westminster’s Medal for Military Literature has been awarded annually since 1997. The award is bestowed to the book which represents in the opinion of the Awarding Board a notable and original contribution to the study of international or national security, or the military professions. Previous winners of the medal include Rana Mitter, Anne Applebaum, Sir Hew Strachan, Sir Max Hastings and Sir Lawrence Freedman.

The shortlist for this year’s award also included:

  • Sean McMeekin. The Ottoman Endgame (Penguin).
  • Tom Buk-Swienty. 1864: The forgotten war that shaped modern Europe (Profile).
  • Nicholas Krohley. The Death of the Medhi Army: The Rise, Fall, and Revival of Iraq’s Most Powerful Militia (Hurst Publishers).
  • Jonathan Haslam. Near and Distant Neighbours: A New History of Soviet Intelligence(Oxford University Press).
  • Chris Woods. Sudden Justice: America's Secret Drone Wars (Hurst Publishers)


1. Lord Hennessy and Dr Jinks will be presented with the Medal by Baroness Neville-Jones in an award ceremony at 13.00 on 28th November at RUSI, Whitehall. If you would like to attend please contact Mr Nathan Mathiot at or 0207 747 4963.

2. Further details about the RUSI Duke of Westminster Medal can be accessed at:

3. RUSI is an independent think-tank for defence and security. RUSI is a unique institution; founded in 1831 by the Duke of Wellington, it embodies nearly two centuries of forward thinking, free discussion and careful reflection on defence and security matters.


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