Synopses & Reviews
In Perilous Fight,
Stephen Budiansky tells the rousing story of the underdog coterie of American seamen and their visionary secretary of the navy, who combined bravery and strategic innovation to hold off the legendary Royal Navy.
Budiansky vividly demonstrates that far from an indecisive and unnecessary conflict—as historians have long dismissed the War of 1812—this “forgotten war” had profound consequences that would change the course of naval warfare, Americas place in the world, and the rules of international conflict forever. Never again would the great powers challenge the young republics sovereignty in the aftermath of the stunning performance of Americas navy and privateersmen in sea battles that ranged across half the globe. Their brilliant hit-and-run tactics against a far mightier foe would pioneer concepts of “asymmetric warfare” that would characterize the insurgency warfare of later centuries.
Above all, the War of 1812 would be the making of the United States Navy. Even as the war began, the nation was bitterly divided over whether it should have a navy at all: Jeffersonian Republicans denounced the idea as a dangerous expansion of government power, while Federalists insisted that America could never protect its burgeoning seagoing commerce or command respect without a strong naval force. After the war, Americans would never again doubt that their might, respect, and very survival depended upon a permanent and professional navy.
Drawing extensively on diaries, letters, and personal accounts from both sides, Budiansky re-creates the riveting encounters at sea in bloody clashes of cannonfire and swordplay; the intimate hopes and fears of vainglorious captains and young seamen in search of adventure; and the behind-the-scenes political intrigue and maneuvering in Washington and London. Throughout, Perilous Fight proves itself a gripping and essential work of American naval history.
From the Hardcover edition.
In Perilous Fight
, Stephen Budiansky tells the rousing story of the U.S. Navy during the War of 1812, when an upstart American fleet fought off the legendary Royal Navy and established America as a world power for the first time.
Through vivid re-creations of riveting and dramatic encounters at sea, Budiansky shows how this underdog coterie of seamen and their visionary secretary of the navy combined bravery and strategic brilliance to defeat the British, who had dominated the seas for more than two centuries. A gripping and essential hsitory, this is the military and political story of how the U.S. Navy became a permanent and essential part of the nation’s defense.
About the Author
Stephen Budiansky is a military historian and journalist. His writings have appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Men’s Journal, MHQ, Civil War Times, and many other publications. His previous books include The Bloody Shirt, Her Majesty’s Spymaster, Air Power, and Battle of Wits. He lives in Leesburg, Virginia.