Not just a rigorous, steady-going chronological history, but also a cogent analysis of the genesis of a defense strategy.



Ambitious, painstakingly detailed account of how the fledgling American fleet grew into a permanent navy.

Despite calls by George Washington and John Adams to raise a naval power, there was no muscular attempt to organize patriot sea militias at the outbreak of the Revolution, largely because the Royal Navy appeared so dominant. The rebels didn’t realize, writes Daughan, former director of the Air Force Academy’s MA program in international affairs, that their strength lay in their humble whaleboats. This is evident in the author’s blow-by-blow re-creation of such early sea skirmishes as the overtaking of the British Margaretta by rebels off the coast of Machias, Maine, on May 24, 1775, a battle that James Fenimore Cooper later called “the Lexington of the sea.” The Continental Congress could not adequately direct naval strategy, while the heroic efforts of patriot seamen like John Paul Jones, John Barry, Lambert Wickes and Nicholas Biddle were squandered on insignificant missions. The French alliance helped turn the tide, but what remained of the Continental Navy played little part in the momentous victories, and the new republic was too broke to fund a navy. Goaded by high-seas piracy and impressments and seizure by the English, Congress eventually passed the Naval Act of 1794, which authorized the construction of a half-dozen frigates—“a pathetically small force,” notes Daughan. President Adams was determined to bolster defense measures, but his successor was unwilling to expend public funds for defense; Jefferson preferred to use the power of commerce as a foreign-relations weapon. The issues of impressments and trade grew increasingly contentious between America and Britain, culminating in the declaration of war by President Madison in 1812. The author demonstrates how American privateers effected some surprising victories, contributing to the growing consensus that the navy was indeed critical to the nation’s defense.

Not just a rigorous, steady-going chronological history, but also a cogent analysis of the genesis of a defense strategy.

Pub Date: June 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-465-01607-5

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2008

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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