A lively, vigorous story of the infant American navy during the Revolution, of privateering, of capture and imprisonment by the British, of escape and exchange, of refuge in French ports, in the Netherlands -- and always again the struggle for survival in the new young country to which a navy seemed laughable. ""The men who fought, the ships they sailed and the women who stood behind them"" of the subtitle gives a glimpse into the very human story of Kenny Boyle, red-headed Irishman, at odds with a world that treated him harshly, of his falling in with the Yankee, Joshua Barney, and of how Joshua befriended him, got him aboard what turned out to be virtually a slaver of redemptioners, but -- backed by Irish Moira, who plied her trade aboard for her own ends -- bought him back again on landing. It is Joshua's story, too, and Moira's; and it is the story of the girls Joshua and Kenny loved, and the rocky courses of their romances. Not a very penetrating story on the psychological side; the characters are fairly stock -- the conflicts routine. But the sense of period and a new facet of the Navy's story, makes a good yarn worth reading....A much better book than last year's River to the West. Closer in quality to his best selling Salem Frigate. And more than a little of the quality of Forester's Hornblower trilogy, in respect to some superb sea battles.