Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Founding of The U.S. Navy By Ian W. Toll

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According to Henry Adams, the 1812 encounter between USS Constitution and HMS Guerriere "raised the United States in one half hour to the rank of a first class power in the world." That battle is just one of the events recounted in this well-documented and equally well-written work. The decision to build the first six frigates that were to become the beginning of the U.S. Navy, the political struggles of the new nation, the brave, but not always heroic, deeds of the first commanders of those vessels, their trepidations and victories are recorded in this highly readable and notable new book.

560 pages, Paperback 2008, W.W. Norton