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Six Frigates: The Epic History of the…
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Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Founding of the U.S. Navy (2006)

by Ian W. Toll

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This book covers the early days of our nation while it built a fleet that could protect our shores. Using political and diplomatic history to provide context, Toll writes a great history.
  mcmlsbookbutler | Sep 22, 2016 |
The early history of the US Navy. It is nice to be reminded that at its inception the United States was paying tribute to a bunch of North African pirate kingdoms. ( )
  themulhern | Jul 9, 2016 |
After the Revolutionary War the small Continental Navy was disbanded in an effort by the fragile republic to remain free from standing armies. However, with the predations of pirates and privateers upon the merchant vessels and shipping interests, it soon became clear that a navy was essential. At the urging of John Adams, President George Washington authorized the building of six frigates - United States, President, Congress, Constitution, Constellation, and Chesapeake (Washington simply chose the first names on the list he was given, pg 61) - in a time when the British Royal Navy was the undisputed ruler of the seas.

Shipbuilder Joshua Humphreys was chosen to design the frigates and came up with a plan that accommodated many of the advantages of ships that were both larger and smaller than frigates typical of the time. And although the ships were all built in different shipyards, what resulted were strong ships which performed surprisingly well in the Quasi-War with France, the conflicts with the Barbary pirates of Africa, and against Britain in the War of 1812. The captains and admirals involved are discussed, such as Truxton, Bainbridge, Decatur, Hull and Rodgers, and they and their exploits and accomplishments come alive in wonderful detail, and many nations - especially Britain - were forced to come to terms with the idea of another nation with a strong sea presence.

I was thoroughly surprised by how engaging and readable this book is - I honestly had not expected much from a "history of the founding of the U. S. Navy." But full credit goes to Ian Toll (a financial analyst and political aide, of all things!) for an outstanding and well-researched book that makes an otherwise little-known part of history come alive. I found the content and style every bit as compelling as David McCullough's books. From the brutality and violence of sea battles to the political rivalries and economic challenges, the history is placed into proper context to allow the reader to understand the forces behind the decisions and the historical impact. I was almost sad to see this book end and hope Mr. Toll can repeat his magic with more books. ( )
  J.Green | Aug 26, 2014 |
After the Revolutionary War the small Continental Navy was disbanded in an effort by the fragile republic to remain free from standing armies. However, with the predations of pirates and privateers upon the merchant vessels and shipping interests, it soon became clear that a navy was essential. At the urging of John Adams, President George Washington authorized the building of six frigates - United States, President, Congress, Constitution, Constellation, and Chesapeake (Washington simply chose the first names on the list he was given, pg 61) - in a time when the British Royal Navy was the undisputed ruler of the seas.

Shipbuilder Joshua Humphreys was chosen to design the frigates and came up with a plan that accommodated many of the advantages of ships that were both larger and smaller than frigates typical of the time. And although the ships were all built in different shipyards, what resulted were strong ships which performed surprisingly well in the Quasi-War with France, the conflicts with the Barbary pirates of Africa, and against Britain in the War of 1812. The captains and admirals involved are discussed, such as Truxton, Bainbridge, Decatur, Hull and Rodgers, and they and their exploits and accomplishments come alive in wonderful detail, and many nations - especially Britain - were forced to come to terms with the idea of another nation with a strong sea presence.

I was thoroughly surprised by how engaging and readable this book is - I honestly had not expected much from a "history of the founding of the U. S. Navy." But full credit goes to Ian Toll (a financial analyst and political aide, of all things!) for an outstanding and well-researched book that makes an otherwise little-known part of history come alive. I found the content and style every bit as compelling as David McCullough's books. From the brutality and violence of sea battles to the political rivalries and economic challenges, the history is placed into proper context to allow the reader to understand the forces behind the decisions and the historical impact. I was almost sad to see this book end and hope Mr. Toll can repeat his magic with more books. ( )
  J.Green | Aug 26, 2014 |
After the Revolutionary War the small Continental Navy was disbanded in an effort by the fragile republic to remain free from standing armies. However, with the predations of pirates and privateers upon the merchant vessels and shipping interests, it soon became clear that a navy was essential. At the urging of John Adams, President George Washington authorized the building of six frigates - United States, President, Congress, Constitution, Constellation, and Chesapeake (Washington simply chose the first names on the list he was given, pg 61) - in a time when the British Royal Navy was the undisputed ruler of the seas.

Shipbuilder Joshua Humphreys was chosen to design the frigates and came up with a plan that accommodated many of the advantages of ships that were both larger and smaller than frigates typical of the time. And although the ships were all built in different shipyards, what resulted were strong ships which performed surprisingly well in the Quasi-War with France, the conflicts with the Barbary pirates of Africa, and against Britain in the War of 1812. The captains and admirals involved are discussed, such as Truxton, Bainbridge, Decatur, Hull and Rodgers, and they and their exploits and accomplishments come alive in wonderful detail, and many nations - especially Britain - were forced to come to terms with the idea of another nation with a strong sea presence.

I was thoroughly surprised by how engaging and readable this book is - I honestly had not expected much from a "history of the founding of the U. S. Navy." But full credit goes to Ian Toll (a financial analyst and political aide, of all things!) for an outstanding and well-researched book that makes an otherwise little-known part of history come alive. I found the content and style every bit as compelling as David McCullough's books. From the brutality and violence of sea battles to the political rivalries and economic challenges, the history is placed into proper context to allow the reader to understand the forces behind the decisions and the historical impact. I was almost sad to see this book end and hope Mr. Toll can repeat his magic with more books. ( )
  J.Green | Aug 26, 2014 |
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On October 21, 1805, an English fleet commanded by Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson hunted down and annihilated the combined fleets of France and Spain in an immense sea battle off Cape Trafalgar, near the Spanish coast.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393058476, Hardcover)

How "a handful of bastards and outlaws fighting under a piece of striped bunting" humbled the omnipotent British Navy.

Before the ink was dry on the U.S. Constitution, the establishment of a permanent military had become the most divisive issue facing the new government. Would a standing army be the thin end of dictatorship? Would a navy protect American commerce against the Mediterranean pirates, or drain the treasury and provoke hostilities with the great powers? The founders—particularly Jefferson, Madison, and Adams—debated these questions fiercely and switched sides more than once. How much of a navy would suffice? Britain alone had hundreds of powerful warships.

From the decision to build six heavy frigates, through the cliffhanger campaign against Tripoli, to the war that shook the world in 1812, Ian W. Toll tells this grand tale with the political insight of Founding Brothers and a narrative flair worthy of Patrick O'Brian. According to Henry Adams, the 1812 encounter between USS Constitution and HMS Guerriere "raised the United States in one half hour to the rank of a first class power in the world." 16 pages of illustrations; 8 pages of color.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:57 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Describes the origins and early history of the American Navy, discussing the debates by the founding fathers over the need for a permanent military, the decision to construct six heavy frigates, the campaign against Tripoli, and the War of 1812.

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