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Give Me a Fast Ship: The Continental Navy and America's Revolution at Sea

3.69  ·  Rating Details  ·  96 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
Five ships against hundreds—the fledgling American Navy versus the greatest naval force the world had ever seen…

America in 1775 was on the verge of revolution—or, more likely, disastrous defeat. After the bloodshed at Lexington and Concord, England’s King George sent hundreds of ships westward to bottle up American harbors and prey on American shipping. Colonists had no fo
Hardcover, 543 pages
Published July 1st 2014 by NAL
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Jan 10, 2016 Jerome rated it it was amazing
A thorough and lively history of the Continental Navy. McGrath gives us a great portrait of a band of heroic sailors fighting against all odds against both the British navy and the ignorance of inept American political leaders. McGrath’s book is smoothly written, with a dry humor and an eye for detail that will make it appeal to a wide audience. We learn of the exploits of all the expected heroes, like John Paul Jones, John Barry, Richard Dale, Edward Preble, and a good number of lesser-known na ...more
Chris Kostenko
Feb 16, 2015 Chris Kostenko rated it really liked it
We hear very little about the continental navy. We hear a lot about the British Navy, the best in the world, some say. The image of hundreds of ships at anchor in Sandy Hook is one I often think of relaxing at that beach.

The interesting thing is that the ships fought across the golbe: in the Caribbean, at the sugar plantations, in the North Atlantic, around Scotland, around Ireland, in Spanish ports, and in French ports (long before there was a specific alliance.

I knew about John Paul Jones, but
Aug 18, 2014 Jim rated it it was amazing
I am a huge fan of naval warfare nonfiction and fiction. I have a special affinity for the American Revolution war against England and with France. I have just finished GIVE ME A FAST SHIP by TIM McGRATH (ISBN 978-0451416100, $26.95, hardcover). It was published the summer of 2014. This is non-fiction.

The author gives a blow by blow description of most of the major engagements between American and British warships. He describes the politics and economics of what was going on in England, France,
Jul 18, 2014 Tom rated it did not like it
Boo! Sorry but if nothing lies like statistics, then the second caveat is no historian only tells one side of the story. I don't object to McGrath's research but his language which is so silly and hyperbolic that every English captain a condescending twit and every Loyalist a fool or a brigand. Sorry. Untrue. Yuck! As a better scholar once wrote, this was a "Cousin's War" and this sort of tomfoolery belongs in middle school story telling, not serious writing.
Feb 01, 2016 Jim rated it really liked it
Some historians (e.g., Ian Toll on page 15 of "Six Frigates") concluded that "The Continental Navy, with few exceptions, was a wasteful and humiliating fiasco." Tim McGrath in this book tells a more balanced and detailed history of the Continental Navy. To be sure, there were fiascoes like the British destroying a Continental squadron in the Penobscot River in what is now Maine. And many Continental ships were captured by the British. But there are many other sides of the story.

John Paul Jones'
Alex Miller
Aug 31, 2014 Alex Miller rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf
Boy, this is a topic and an era that I have high interest in, and I was really looking forward to this. Unfortunately, although McGrath's research seems sound and exhaustive, his storytelling powers are lackluster, making this read very much like the proverbial history book. I couldn't finish it.
Martin Whatwouldthefoundersthink
Prodigious is the best word to describe Tim McGrath’s latest naval history. Give Me A Fast Ship tells the story of America’s Navy as it sprang into existence during the Revolutionary War. In an awesome undertaking, McGrath covers the careers of every captain in America’s nascent navy. One has only to peruse the bibliography to get a sense of McGrath’s accomplishment.

My complete review is on What Would The Founders Think?
Pierre Lauzon
Aug 21, 2015 Pierre Lauzon rated it it was amazing
This book that filled a great void in my knowledge of the American Revolution and the war at sea during the revolution. I had no idea how tenuous the revolution was and how close we came to losing. I also didn’t know about privateers, privately-owned ships that preyed on enemy merchant vessels and provided needed ammunition, gunpowder, and goods for the revolution.

The book discusses at length the captains and supporters of the Continental Navy. The book discusses Charles Biddle, Joshua Barney, J
Jan 31, 2015 Jb rated it really liked it
What John Paul Jones actually got was a slow tub. With it, though, he persevered to win the defining naval battle of the American Revolutionary War. McGrath describes the ups and downs of the U.S. continental navy beginning with fitting five merchant ships with guns. Later, keels were laid for larger ships but most never saw action. Two were burned soon after completion to prevent capture, others sunk or forfeited. Toward the end of the war only five vessels were serviceable. Fits and starts, de ...more
Aug 07, 2014 Heather rated it liked it
Great historical facts, but SUPER dry.
Eugene Procknow
Mar 08, 2015 Eugene Procknow rated it liked it
Excellent research and coverage of a previously neglected topic. Narrative is a little choppy. Could use more thesis development. Little summary conclusions. Also mor information on impact of the U.S. Navy versus Britain and privateers.
Adam Christians
Dec 03, 2014 Adam Christians rated it did not like it
Shelves: for-school
If you are searching for a non-academic book about the biographical generalizations of the American navy, this is a great book. If you are looking for an academic book that has a thesis, supportive arguments, and doesn't stop short of answering a big question, this is not the book for you.

The research for this book is very in-depth and the whimsical storytelling is, well, just that, storytelling. McGrath is a fascinating narrator that fills in the black and white facts with colorful, yet questio
Charles Ames
Nov 06, 2014 Charles Ames rated it liked it
I had to look up a lot of the age-of-sail naval jargon ("wear ship!", "mizzen", ...) but once I did, a vivid and fascinating picture of what it was like to be in the Continental Navy began to emerge. McGrath describes key encounters, both military and political, in exhaustive detail, relating sea battles order-by-order and turn-by-turn, and quoting at length letters among congressmen, captains, and diplomats. Perpetually short of money, supplies, and men, US Navy sea captains operated like pirat ...more
Nov 03, 2014 Ed added it
Exciting times during the American Revolution, regarding the new Navy and its inception. John Paul Jones was minimized as a American Hero as he stated "I have not begun to fight" as he outmaneuver his opponent. He then began to blast away relentlessly while receiving the same, only by the accurate firing of muskets of spar based Marines was he able to decimate the officers and men on the deck. This was the highlight of his career! But a vivid description of the Captains and their ships, travels, ...more
Jan 31, 2015 Scott rated it really liked it
McGrath brings an insight into the berth of the Continental Navy and the colorful characters that sailed the ships, the families they left behind, and the intrigue of politics. Famous captains like John Paul Jones and John Barry are compared alongside lesser known men who helped the rebellious colonies succeed. Very good historical reading.
Melanie Downes
Aug 05, 2015 Melanie Downes rated it really liked it
Very interesting learning for the Navy Ships in the Revolutionary war.
Michael Barker
Jul 19, 2015 Michael Barker rated it it was amazing
Shelves: navy, summer-of-2015
An excellent book about the trials and tribulations and occasional triumphs of the Continental Navy during the American Revolutionary War. McGrath wrote a first rate biography of Captain John Barry previously so I knew this would be an entertaining and fun read. I wasn't disappointed. If you have an interest in the American Revolution or the early navy this book is fld you.
Mar 22, 2015 AustinB. added it
Shelves: abandoned
I didn't like this book. It was boring; nothing insetting happened and the author gave too much information.
Jun 13, 2015 Ray is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Give Me a Fast Ship: The Continental Navy and America's Revolution at Sea
by Tim McGrath

Just starting.

Supposed to be a definitive history of the development of the American Navy during the Revolutionary War.
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