Synopses & Reviews
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 foundersparticularly Jefferson, Madison, and Adamsdebated 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.
"Toll, a former financial analyst and political speechwriter, makes an auspicious debut with this rousing, exhaustively researched history of the founding of the U.S. Navy. The author chronicles the late 18th- and early 19th-century process of building a fleet that could project American power beyond her shores. The ragtag Continental Navy created during the Revolution was promptly dismantled after the war, and it wasn't until 1794 in the face of threats to U.S. shipping from England, France and the Barbary states of North Africa that Congress authorized the construction of six frigates and laid the foundation for a permanent navy. A cabinet-level Department of the Navy followed in 1798. The fledgling navy quickly proved its worth in the Quasi War against France in the Caribbean, the Tripolitan War with Tripoli and the War of 1812 against the English. In holding its own against the British, the U.S. fleet broke the British navy's 'sacred spell of invincibility,' sparked a 'new enthusiasm for naval power' in the U.S. and marked the maturation of the American navy. Toll provides perspective by seamlessly incorporating the era's political and diplomatic history into his superlative single-volume narrative a must-read for fans of naval history and the early American Republic." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
From the decision to build six heavy frigates, through the cliffhanger campaign against Tripoli to the war that shook the world in 1812, Toll tells this grand tale with the political insight of "Foundling Brothers" and a narrative flair worthy of Patrick O'Brian.
About the Author
Ian W. Toll has been a Wall Street analyst, a Federal Reserve financial analyst, and a political aide and speechwriter. Six Frigates is his first book. He lives with his wife in San Francisco.