"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 ReviewBefore 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.
“Sweeping in scope, full of vivid descriptions... solidly grounded in the diplomatic landscape... a masterly work.”
- Chris Patsilelis, Houston Chronicle
“[A] wonderfully atmospheric account, brilliantly researched, full of stirring action and rich with the scent of the sea.”
- Simon Winchester, author of The Professor and the Madman
“Gripping... a masterful narrative... Toll captures the ambivalence of the government, and its reluctance to pay for even a tiny navy, very well.”
- Joe Mysak, Bloomberg News
“Toll has a light touch, much like noted historian David McCullough; well-researched facts are carefully balanced by smooth narrative flow.... The result is a thoroughly readable book that adds depth and significance to an important era of American history.”
- Bruce Linder, San Diego Tribune
“Vibrant and comprehensive, Toll makes an impressive debut.”
- Gilbert Taylor, Booklist
Ian W. Toll is the author of Pacific Crucible, The Conquering Tide, and Six Frigates, winner of the Samuel Eliot Morison Award and the William E. Colby Award. He lives in San Francisco and New York.