Finished, a good 3 1/2 Stars
but probably not one to make my permanent collection. He does a good job of covering the fledgling Continental Navy, from the pork barrel effort to build the first batch of frigates to their eventual demise at the hands of the Royal Navy. His contention is the US Navy was born in the Revolutionary War rather than in the 1790's, as is commonly agreed. He covers many naval actions, large and small to make the point. As many other reviewers have noted, he beats a dead horse on the failure of the Continentals to build hundreds of "Whaleboats and row galleys" to use in guerrilla raids against the British Navy. He believes that would have been far more effective rather than trying to mirror the ships and tactics of the greatest naval power in the world, as the Continentals do. He brings some fair criticism to the conduct of naval operations and what the combatants could have done to succeed. He goes overboard when he gets down to individual battles and applies the same approach.
I did not find his post-Revolutionary War and War of 1812 sections to be thorough enough for me. [b:Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Founding of the U.S. Navy|39000|Six Frigates The Epic History of the Founding of the U.S. Navy|Ian W. Toll|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1329071512s/39000.jpg|1525986] is so much better in describing that era. One thing disturbed me was a definite anti-Jeffersonian slant. He uses a common tactic you see on cable TV...someone's different opinion is not honestly held but is underhanded and self-serving. Many did not want to build a large navy because once you start building, the naval proponents will just want more and more. And a large navy will provide the temptation to get involved in European conflicts. There is a conflict when a nation relies on a lot of seaborne trade but does not want to build a respectable force to protect that trade. Didn't feel he did that conflict justice.
A good book to read about the earliest days of our naval history but I'd recommend Six Frigates
for a more exciting read.