Continuing my theme of brushing up on the corners of history with which I am less familiar, I just finished reading The Tsar's Last Armada, which related the the story of the doomed voyage to Tsushima with that blend of cheery good humor and oh-my-god-we're-all-gonna-die fatalism that is the Russian birthright.
Bad food, diplomatic squabbles, a vacillating high command back home, primitive communications... I'm not sure how you say "Murphy" in Russian, but there's got to be a word for it. Paranoia has Japanese spies and saboteurs lurking behind every wave top and shoreline boulder, to the point that the nervous Russkies shoot up the British fishing fleet in the nighttime seas of Dogger Bank, leading to a major international incident.
By the time the fleet has reached Madagascar, the Admiral's staff is worried because he's already pitched more than half of the fifty pairs of binoculars they've brought along overboard in various fits of rage, and the Sea of Japan is still a long way off. Meanwhile crewmen are roasting alive in the black iron hulls, dying of tropical diseases, or going crazy and jumping into the shark-infested water. And St. Petersburg has them sit on their thumbs for two months as Nicholas II, known for the jellyfish-like qualities of his spine, wavers between making them wait for the dregs of the Baltic fleet or letting them sail on to Vladivostok, depending on who advised him last.
It was a very readable book, despite knowing that the fleet was going to get its beets pickled by Togo at the end of the voyage. In fact, having now learned more of what came before, the battle itself seems almost an anticlimax...