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If By Sea: The Forging of the American Navy--from the Revolution to the War of 1812
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If By Sea: The Forging of the American Navy--from the Revolution to the War of 1812

3.54 of 5 stars 3.54  ·  rating details  ·  85 ratings  ·  18 reviews
"America's path to worldwide naval supremacy was not a simple one. The Founding Fathers fought strenuously over whether or not the fledgling nation truly needed a deep-water fleet. A navy built on the British model would be crushingly expensive; it might also lure America into foreign wars that would destabilize the nascent republic. The argument over the opportunities and ...more
Kindle Edition, 568 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2008)
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(showing 1-30 of 242)
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I thought this was an interesting look at the beginnings of the US Navy. Mr Daughan covers events from the Revolution thru the War of 1812. While he does cover the battles the Navy fought during those 40 yrs, I thought this is more of a political history of the Navy. The author goes into great detail on the differences in philosophy between the Jeffersonian Republicans and the Federalists.

In his coverage of the Revolution Mr. Daughan is highly critical of the decisions of the Continental Congre
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 h ...more
Eric Lin
Basically, the American Navy could have been more effective if they had the same hindsight that Daughan writes with.

Daughan spent a lot of time describing the land battles of the Revolutionary War. Interesting, for sure, but I already knew a lot of these details, and I would have preferred he spent those pages describing the navy in more detail (or just remove them entirely. Why do historians feel the need to write such thick books when a shorter book would cover the material just as well?).

Urey Patrick
This is a thoroughly readable, engrossing and wide-ranging history of the creation and evolution of the United States Navy, beginning with its difficult and disorganized presence through the years of the Revolutionary War, its partial restoration in the Quasi-War with France, and its final successful and lasting establishment as a result of the War of 1812. The author's research and ability to relate a compelling narrative combine to make this immensely readable. The personalities and events aff ...more
Paul Lunger
George Daughan's "If By Sea: The Forging of the American Navy - from the Revolution to the War of 1812" tells a well researched version of the early history of the US Navy. In at times tedious but exemplary detail he traces the Navy from it's initial successes & failures during the Revolutionary War across the first 4 presidential administrations & the objections to the Navy's existence. The historical detail is very well done as we the reader get a chance to see some of the lesser known ...more
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The author's obsession with row galleries was enough to drive me insane, the author beats that horse to death time and time again. This also often goes from being a history of the navy, which is what I was trying to find, to a history of Revolutionary America's armed forces, with the details of the British army and navy thrown in for good measure. It is as though the author decided that a history of the US Navy from the Revolution to the war of 1812 was just not broad enough, and he needed to di ...more
Ugh is all I can say! I've been reading a lot on the War of 1812 and early American Navy history and this is the worst one I've read! The author is obsessed with the concept that it was wrong for the Continental Navy to build warships instead of "Row galleys and whaleboats." Seriously, he mentions them about once a paragraph. Every time the navy is defeated, it is "if only the navy had built more row galleys and whaleboats." Um, just guessing that a few dozen rowboats with 1 cannon would not hav ...more
Poet Felon
One of the worst history books I have read. He goes on and on about gunboats being the key to American success. Ridiculous.
Worth reading, but a bit repetitive at times. That said it's well researched and an interesting perspective on the early days of America. Definitely 3.5 stars.
A good book with a lot of interesting facts and information. It is well written and easy to read. However, it is somewhat marred by a lot of repetitive complaints about what might have been done if people had better looked at what they were doing and too much detail about maneuvers of the land based army that wasn't completely relevant to the narrative.
A good historical overview of the Revolutionary, quasi-war with France, and the War of 1812. Although it seems more weighted toward the earlier years and specifically the Revolutionary War. I would have enjoyed reading more about the War of 1812 and the Tripoli conflict. Well enjoyed and recommended.
A good high level overview of the history of the US Navy from the Revolutionary War (well integrated with the land action), the quasi-war with France, the action in Tripoli and the War of 1812 (very abbreviated). Well written and easy to read; generally from original source.
Lynn Cullivan
Almost an "alternate history" of the United States -- because so few people understand how integral all things "maritime" are to America's growth and culture. Yeah, it's history, but from an interesting perspective.
Soooo I bought this at a used bookstore primarily because it has a pretty cover and because I really like John Paul Jones. It was very tedious.
Oct 26, 2014 Avani rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: military, navy, history buffs
Shelves: owned
Meticulously written and well researched, but somewhat dry and not really for the casual reader
David Eppenstein
A good telling of the early history of the U.S. Navy.
Good account of early Navy.
Steve Van Slyke
Aug 30, 2010 Steve Van Slyke marked it as to-read
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