Eric Lin's Reviews > If By Sea: The Forging of the American Navy--from the Revolution to the War of 1812

If By Sea by George C. Daughan
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's review
Jan 02, 2013

liked it
bookshelves: history
Read from August 16 to December 31, 2012

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?).

It's a pity that Jefferson's poor decision making extended to the creation of the Navy. In fact, Jefferson's poor judgment informed by his blind idealism is a recurring theme in just about every history book I've read in which he is a participant. Also, every time I read an account of the American Revolution, it becomes increasingly clear how ridiculously improbable it was for the Americans to win the War of Independence.

Anyway, this was a pretty interesting read, with a lot of detailed descriptions of naval battles that you can't really find descriptions of anywhere else, but it's hard to take Daughan's criticisms of Patriot leadership seriously.
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Reading Progress

08/17/2012 page 20
4.0% "Although Adams pushed for a Navy during his presidency, it sounds like during the onset of the American revolution, nobody was willing to give it a go against the British Navy. If the rebels had coordinated, they could have captured some of the warships in Boston harbor in the aftermath of Lexington and Concord."
09/11/2012 page 112
19.0% "He's bringing up a lot of valid points about how the Americans could have been more successful against the British, in naval engagements. But you know what they say about hindsight..." 3 comments
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