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Publisher's Summary

Before the ink was dry on the U.S. Constitution, the establishment of a permanent military had become the most divisive issue facing the new government. Would a standing army be the thin end of dictatorship? Would a navy protect American commerce against the Mediterranean pirates, or drain the treasury and provoke hostilities with the great powers? The founders, particularly Jefferson, Madison, and Adams, debated these questions fiercely and switched sides more than once. How much of a navy would suffice? Britain alone had hundreds of powerful warships.

From the decision to build six heavy frigates, through the cliffhanger campaign against Tripoli, to the war that shook the world in 1812, Ian W. Toll tells this grand tale with the political insight of Founding Brothers and a narrative flair worthy of Patrick O'Brian. According to Henry Adams, the 1812 encounter between the USS Constitution and HMS Guerriere "raised the United States in one half hour to the rank of a first class power in the world."

©2006 Ian W. Toll; (P)2006 Simon and Schuster Inc. All rights reserved.

Critic Reviews

"Toll provides perspective by seamlessly incorporating the era's political and diplomatic history into his superlative single-volume narrative, a must-read for fans of naval history and the early American Republic." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5.0
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Performance

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    87
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Story

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  • Overall

BE ADVISED THIS BOOK IS ABRIDGED

The printed copy of this book was recommended to me by a friend. It was an excellent book to hear, but I fear that important portions may have been omitted in the process. I will pay more attention next time to see that I purchase only UNabridged books. Still a good listen full of historical data.

20 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A

Six Frigates tells the story of the early years of the American Navy focused primarily on its first six "Heavy Frigates." We learn of the politics surrounding the debate over whether a navy was truely needed as well as its equiping and manning. Battles are described in exciting detail. We come to understand the important role the little American Navy played in strengthening the nation's role in international politics.

I found the writing clear, never dull. And the narration was clear and engaging, never losing me in a monotone dialog but also never overdiong the exciting parts.

Who would be interested in this book? If you have enjoyed the "Master and Commander" series for its historical and naval aspects, you will find this book a marvelous companion. If you enjoy colonial and american military history as much as I, then you will probably consider this a good addition to your collection. I hope you enjoy it as much as me.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Excellent

If you enjoyed John Adams and 1776 (not the same author, but similar in genre), you'll love Six Frigates. As is usually the case with this type of book, I feel the need to listen a second time to catch the details I missed, but it will be as pleasant the second time as it was the first. Great book, well read and it gave me tidbits to share at my next get-together with friends.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Great Book but Abridged

This is a good historical read. Seems to be well documented and sounds like a historical novel instead of non-fiction. Would have liked an unabridged version though.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Outstanding Book!

Ian W. Toll is simply a phenomenal writer. This book was so good there's nothing negative I can say about it with the exception that I wished it had been longer. While the book had moments where the political was explained in depth I would not say so to a point of minutia that had no bearing. It was a very complete and a very well presented account and I do believe Toll gave a balanced amount of information about these warships and their place in the nation’s history.

I was first introduced to Toll after listening to The Conquering Tide followed by Pacific Crucible. While I enjoy history I've never had a great affinity to listen to history earlier then the 20th century. This book has changed my outlook. Stephen Lang did an incredible job of telling this story and I believe this is another case of the narrator adding to the book even though the book can stand on its own merits.

This book evoked emotion and made me proud to be an American and very proud of the U.S. Navy. The descriptions of the launching of the United States and the first battle engagement of the Constitution brought up an overwhelming pride in our nation and the unique place that the United States has in the world.

I am awaiting more historical books from Toll. I really feel that if you like history you'll love this book and if you don't like history you'll love this book and you'll start to like history. Click on “Add to Cart” now!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Good Book although shaky first hour

The first hour is a bit dull. Made worse by the narrator--who almost seems to be falling asleep during it. But the book picks up steam as does the narrator. One does grow a tiny bit tired of sea battle descriptions towards the end( not enough detail for a real military battle buff, fine for the general reader, but by the end you've heard too many)

Good book but not a great book. Toll's later book, Pacific Crucible, of far higher caliber both in writing quality and in depth of vision/themes

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Dwight
  • Bradford, RI, United States
  • 04-30-12

Earliy years U. S. Navy

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Yes for the historical learning

Have you listened to any of Stephen Lang’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Have Not listened to any other of S. Lang's

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

No

Any additional comments?

Am new reader so my comments do not reflect that of others who have read more via this method to really contribute

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Robert
  • Bellefonte, PA, USA
  • 11-18-08

Bring US Naval History to Life

I found "Six Frigates" extremely enjoyable and accurate. Carefully placed and dramatic details create a historically believable atmosphere and characters. Relying heavily on first person accounts the early history of the US Navy is brought to life in a factual and unromantic fashion that is refreshing to the ears of any history buff.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Two thumbs up!

This is a very good history of the first navy of the United States, and of how important having a naval force was to the success in the revolutionary period. I recommend this book to anyone interested in American history, naval history, or who just enjoys a good book. The narration is very good also.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Excellent read

Well worth reading.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful