Mrs. Islander, in a terrible breach of Christmas protocol, gave me the book Six Frigates by Ian Toll. I completed reading it yesterday, and I cannot recommend it too highly.
I am an Army man (Signal Corp, actually), and I don't really have a visceral feel for naval issues. But I have re-read C.S. Forrester's Hornblower Saga more times than I can count, and I am happily working my way through Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey Maturin Series.
In Six Frigates, Ian Toll covers the political and economic conditions that forced the creation and development of the US Navy. Into this setting he weaves the epic story of the Navy's actions on the seas, from the "Quasi War" against France, the war against the Barbary Pirates, and through to the War of 1812, when the US Navy did the unthinkable and defeated several British frigates in one-on-one battles.
This is a real, rip-roaring, salt-spray, cannons-thundering sea yarn that just happens to be true. Huzzah!
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