Six Frigates by Ian W. Toll
The Epic History of the Founding of the U.S. Navy

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Synopsis

"A fluent, intelligent history...give[s] the reader a feel for the human quirks and harsh demands of life at sea."—New York Times Book Review


Before the ink was dry on the U.S. Constitution, the establishment of a permanent military became the most divisive issue facing the new government. The founders—particularly Jefferson, Madison, and Adams—debated fiercely. Would a standing army be the thin end of dictatorship? Would a navy protect from pirates or drain the treasury and provoke hostility? Britain alone had hundreds of powerful warships.

From the decision to build six heavy frigates, through the cliff-hanger 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 the narrative flair of Patrick O'Brian.

 

About Ian W. Toll

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Ian W. Toll is an independent naval historian, the author of Pacific Crucible: War at Sea in the Pacific, 1941-1942 and Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Founding of the U.S. Navy. Six Frigates won broad critical acclaim and was selected for the Samuel Eliot Morison Award, the William E. Colby Award, and New York Times "Editor's Choice" list. He lives in San Francisco.
 
Published March 17, 2008 by W. W. Norton & Company. 592 pages
Genres: History, War, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Six Frigates

Kirkus Reviews

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Enter the “Barbary pirates,” privateers of four Arabic states that seized American ships and sailors in a sort of elaborate protection racket—one that England, the world’s foremost naval power, could have easily crushed but instead used as a “check against the growth of economic competition from ...

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The New York Times

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or that a man’s tattoos protected him against venereal diseases.” He shows the almost supernatural bond between ships and men: “Officers and seamen sensed that a ship was a living being, with a unique personality, and the facility to do evil as well as good.” He presents a 19th-century captain wh...

Dec 17 2006 | Read Full Review of Six Frigates: The Epic Histor...

The Guardian

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Six Frigates: How Piracy, War and British Supremacy at Sea Gave Birth to the World's Most Powerful Navy by Ian W Toll Michael Joseph, £25, pp560 On 21 October 1805, HMS Victory, sailing from Trafalgar with the embalmed body of Lord Nelson in a barrel in the hold, encountered the merchantman Ann A...

Dec 17 2006 | Read Full Review of Six Frigates: The Epic Histor...

Publishers Weekly

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He trusts instead to Toll's virtuoso combination of details large and small (everything from the uniquely horrible ways men died during sea battles to the greed of shipbuilders and their representatives in government) to keep listeners intrigued—changing his voice in subtle ways when he brings to...

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BC Books

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Home Books Book Review: Six Frigates - The Epic History of the Founding of the U.S. Navy by Ian W.

Apr 09 2008 | Read Full Review of Six Frigates: The Epic Histor...

Bookmarks Magazine

Basbanes New York Times 4 of 5 Stars "[A] fluent, intelligent history of American military policy from the early 1790s, when Congress commissioned six frigates to fight the Barbary pirates, through the War of 1812.

Aug 21 2007 | Read Full Review of Six Frigates: The Epic Histor...

Military.com

Many books have been written about the history of the American navy, but this one is of particular excellence.

Jan 16 2008 | Read Full Review of Six Frigates: The Epic Histor...

Project MUSE

Toll's Six Frigates relates the story of the early American Navy largely through the histories of the first six frigates built by the United States, among which were the illustrious Constitution and the ill-fated Chesapeake.

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Project MUSE

Author Ian Toll begins his story with the Age of Nelson, a time during which the Royal Navy gained maritime supremacy and the small, struggling United States, and its even smaller navy, was barely a concern in the face of England's greater and more immediate threats.

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