The American navy made little difference to the outcome of the War of Independence, this book concludes. The hit-or-miss flotilla roamed bravely, the small ships operating as privateers off Great Britain and defending their own coasts and inland waters. Yet according to Fowler the navy's offensive exploits have been overrated apart from the 60 enemy vessels taken or sunk by a certain Gustavus Conyngham, and American coastal towns were improperly defended. Congressional debates over naval appropriations--which John Adams could prod no higher than eight percent of total war spending--are examined without reference to Britain's own naval strategy, her military entanglements elsewhere, or Parliament's disposition. The overall ebb and flow of the conflict is missing, as well as the internal American fight between mercantile interests and inland agricultural ones, so that the book remains a study in naval buffery rather than a significant contribution to our understanding of the Revolutionary War.