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Decision at Sea: Five Naval Battles That Shaped American History
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Decision at Sea: Five Naval Battles That Shaped American History

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  137 ratings  ·  12 reviews
From thunderous broadsides traded between wooden sailing ships on Lake Erie, to the carrier battles of World War II, to the devastating high-tech action in the Persian Gulf, here is a gripping history of five key battles that defined the evolution of naval warfare--and the course of the American nation.
Acclaimed military historian Craig Symonds offers spellbinding narrati
Paperback, 378 pages
Published October 1st 2006 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 2005)
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Marvin Baker
As a fiction writer I find a lot of research material to be less than thrilling. Fortunately, Symonds' structure and prose make each of the five battles recounted here accessible and just plain fun to read. Granted, once the author moves from the actual history to projections of how history was changed by each, we enter the realm of speculation, but, Symonds acknowledges this up front. I especially found his comments following The Battle of Manila Bay to be particularly compelling: how one milit ...more
Decision at Sea covers the Battle of Lake Erie (1813), Hampton Roads (1862), Manila Bay (1898), Midway (1942), and Operation Praying Mantis (1988). As something of a bonus, the prologue covers the Battle of the Chesapeake (1781) and recent operations in the Persian Gulf.

With the exception of Midway, these battles do not ordinarily make the list of the "greats," which definitely adds to the interest, since (outside of Midway and the Monitor vs. the Virginia [ex-Merrimack] at Hampton Roads) these
So far so good. I'm nearing the end of the second key naval battle Symonds discusses, which means I finished reading about Oliver Hazard Perry's battle on Lake Erie. Symonds unfolded the story of that naval battle and the days leading up to it like a novel. Stripped of the lesser details and unnecessary background information - the first two chapters have been factual storytelling at its best. If the rest of the book keeps up the pace and excitement, I would recommend it as a highly readable sum ...more
Bill Bradford
The good: A very detailed analysis of four battles (the last is more a series)that had a profound effect on American history. Minutely researched descriptions of the battles, their place in history, and how they affected American history. Great fir people who love naval history.
The bad: Anytime you try to extrapolate that one one naval engagement changed overall history (not just naval history) you are walking into the realm of conjecture. The author acknowledges this in the acknowledgements. I
A solid and accessible offering that mixes the larger historical picture with the lived impact of command decisions on individuals. Underlying Symonds's narrative is a focus on the technological advances that, while they have undergirded naval development worldwide, contribute to American dominance on the seas. The book boarders on the jingoistic at times, and those well versed in military history will find some of the chapters uninformative (the Monitor and Virginia and the Battle of Midway, fo ...more
Jared Bryson
Five major battles in US Naval History - each of which had a huge impact on US National History.

A book written by a teacher, rather than an writer. It was a different perspective, as the author discussed why he thought this battle was a milestone in US History.

An interesting book for me, as I had never spent significant time reading about Perry's victory on Lake Erie, the Monitor vs the CSS Virginia, Dewey's victory in Manila Bay, or the events in the Persian Gulf against the Iranian Navy in Ope
I probably don't read enough naval history. It's just not my thing - but I enjoyed this book. It is well-written and engaging. Symonds examines pivotal naval battles in American history--Lake Erie, Hampton Roads, Manila Bay, Midway, and Praying Mantis. The Introduction also includes a short narrative and analysis of the Battle of the Capes in the American Revolution. These battles allow Symonds to examine both developments in naval technology, operations, and strategy but also in American histor ...more
This is a great overview of the advancement of the United States as a player on the world stage from the point of view of its naval forces. Starting from a battle where the major difficulty was getting any ships at all built and into position, it shows how much the US Navy has changed, and with it the attitudes of the country towards war, foreign powers, and world responsibilities.
Jan 19, 2014 Jt rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: navy
It is a great overview of 5 major naval battles throughout the US history and describes how they influenced US history on a large scale. It also ended with a great prologue describing modern naval warfare and how it changed after 9/11. Great history, but also a fun read.
This is a really nice book, the epilogue finalize a turn that started with the battle for Manila bay that was unexpected for me, since I never saw the US from that perspective. Nice read.
Paul Kratochwill
I thought I knew a lot about each of the battles discussed in this book. I was wrong. This is a must read for any military history buff.
Jeffrey Cavanaugh
A good account of five "pivotal" naval battles of US history.
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Craig Lee Symonds is a retired professor and chairman of the history department at the United States Naval Academy.
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