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Decision at Sea by Craig L. Symonds
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Decision at Sea (2005)

by Craig L. Symonds

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I highly recommend this book. The author does an excellent job talking about the conditions that lead up to each battle, the key points of the battle, and the historical ramifications of each one. From the Battle of Lake Erie to the Persian Gulf, it covers some of the high points of naval action in US History. If you are looking for a lot of naval details, you may find that missing in this book, but the history, politics and warfare are all well covered. ( )
  Karlstar | Jan 19, 2013 |
The good: A very detailed analysis of four battles (the last is more a series)that had a profound effect on American history. Minutely researched descriptions of the battles, their place in history, and how they affected American history. Great fir people who love naval history.
The bad: Anytime you try to extrapolate that one one naval engagement changed overall history (not just naval history) you are walking into the realm of conjecture. The author acknowledges this in the acknowledgements. I can definitely buy Midway being the turning point of the Pacific theater in World War II, and Hampton Roads certainly changed naval warfare forever, but I felt the conclusions were sometimes a bit of a reach. This was especially evident in the final chapter and epilogue. ( )
  Bill.Bradford | Nov 11, 2012 |
Symonds has done a fine job producing a brief history of five key battles in American naval history. In many respects, the best of the book is at the beginning. Enough time has passed to allow for a more detached view of the War of 1812, the Civil War, and the Spanish American War. For those battles, the author presents a compelling and surprisingly broad story that details the world setting, local events, and relevant personnel of each. The World War 2 passage concerning Midway is also well done but with occasional unnecessary (and irrelevant) commentary. The final chapter and the epilogue, which deal with events from the last thirty years, are considerably less well done. This is not surprising since time gives perspective. Whereas the issue of Manifest Destiny has now faded sufficiently to allow for more objective writing concerning the era, opinions concerning the Reagan administration are still fresh and not so easily overcome. The closing of the book spends more time detailing the political context of the military actions, a pattern not followed in the first four chapters. The problem is that the political examination almost always means deciphering motives which is very uncertain and usually speculative. Still, the book is well worth reading as it presents the growth and development of American seapower as it relates to the growth and development of the American nation. ( )
  jstamp26 | Jun 21, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0195171454, Hardcover)

From thunderous broadsides traded between wooden sailing ships on Lake Erie, to the carrier battles of World War II, to the devastating high-tech action in the Persian Gulf, here is a gripping history of five key battles that defined the evolution of naval warfare--and the course of the American nation.
Acclaimed military historian Craig Symonds offers spellbinding narratives of crucial engagements, showing how each battle reveals the transformation of technology and weaponry from one war to the next; how these in turn transformed naval combat; and how each event marked a milestone in American history.



· Oliver Hazard Perry's heroic victory at Lake Erie, one of the last great battles of the Age of Sail, which secured the Northwestern frontier for the United States



· The brutal Civil War duel between the ironclads Monitor and Virginia, which sounded the death knell for wooden-hulled warships and doomed the Confederacy's hope of besting the Union navy



· Commodore Dewey's stunning triumph at Manila Bay in 1898, where the U.S. displayed its "new navy" of steel-hulled ships firing explosive shells and wrested an empire from a fading European power



· The hairsbreadth American victory at Midway, where aircraft carriers launched planes against enemies 200 miles away--and where the tide of World War II turned in the space of a few furious minutes



· Operation Praying Mantis in the Persian Gulf, where computers, ship-fired missiles, and "smart bombs" not only changed the nature of warfare at sea, but also marked a new era, and a new responsibility, for the United States.

Symonds records these encounters in detail so vivid that readers can hear the wind in the rigging and feel the pounding of the guns. Yet he places every battle in a wide perspective, revealing their significance to America's development as it grew from a new Republic on the edge of a threatening frontier to a global superpower.
Decision at Sea is a powerful and illuminating look at pivotal moments in the history of the Navy and of the United States. It is also a compelling study of the unchanging demands of leadership at sea, where commanders must make rapid decisions in the heat of battle with lives--and the fate of nations--hanging in the balance.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:50:46 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"From thunderous broadsides traded between wooden sailing ships on Lake Erie, to the carrier battles of World War II, to the devastating high-tech action in the Persian Gulf, here is a gripping history of five key battles that defined the evolution of naval warfare-and the course of the American nation. Acclaimed military historian Craig Symonds offers spellbinding narratives of crucial engagements, showing how each battle reveals the transformation of technology and weaponry from one war to the next; how these in turn transformed naval combat; and how each event marked a milestone in American history. Oliver Hazard Perry's heroic victory at Lake Erie, one of the last great battles of the Age of Sail, which secured the Northwestern frontier for the United States The brutal Civil War duel between the ironclads Monitor and Virginia, which sounded the death knell for wooden-hulled warships and doomed the Confederacy's hope of besting the Union navy Commodore Dewey's stunning triumph at Manila Bay in 1898, where the U.S. displayed its "new navy" of steel-hulled ships firing explosive shells and wrested an empire from a fading European power The hairsbreadth American victory at Midway, where aircraft carriers launched planes against enemies 200 miles away-and where the tide of World War II turned in the space of a few furious minutes Operation Praying Mantis in the Persian Gulf, where computers, ship-fired missiles, and "smart bombs" not only changed the nature of warfare at sea, but also marked a new era, and a new responsibility, for the United States. Symonds records these encounters in detail so vivid that readers can hear the wind in the rigging and feel the pounding of the guns. Yet he places every battle in a wide perspective, revealing their significance to America's development as it grew from a new Republic on the edge of a threatening frontier to a global superpower. Decision at Sea is a powerful and illuminating look at pivotal moments in the history of the Navy and of the United States. It is also a compelling study of the unchanging demands of leadership at sea, where commanders must make rapid decisions in the heat of battle with lives-and the fate of nations-hanging in the balance." http://www.loc.gov/catdir/enhancements/fy0637/2004029394-d.html.… (more)

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