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Give Me a Fast Ship: The Continental Navy and America's Revolution at Sea
     

Give Me a Fast Ship: The Continental Navy and America's Revolution at Sea

4.4 5
by Tim McGrath
 

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WINNER OF THE SAMUEL ELIOT MORISON AWARD FOR NAVAL LITERATURE

“A meticulous, adrenaline-filled account of the earliest days of the Continental Navy.”—New York Times Bestselling Author Laurence Bergreen

America in 1775 was on the verge of revolution—or, more likely, disastrous defeat. After the bloodshed at

Overview

WINNER OF THE SAMUEL ELIOT MORISON AWARD FOR NAVAL LITERATURE

“A meticulous, adrenaline-filled account of the earliest days of the Continental Navy.”—New York Times Bestselling Author Laurence Bergreen

America in 1775 was on the verge of revolution—or, more likely, disastrous defeat. After the bloodshed at Lexington and Concord, England’s King George sent hundreds of ships westward to bottle up American harbors and prey on American shipping. Colonists had no force to defend their coastline and waterways until John Adams of Massachusetts proposed a bold solution: The Continental Congress should raise a navy.
 
The idea was mad. The Royal Navy was the mightiest floating arsenal in history, with a seemingly endless supply of vessels. More than a hundred of these were massive “ships of the line,” bristling with up to a hundred high-powered cannon that could level a city. The British were confident that His Majesty’s warships would quickly bring the rebellious colonials to their knees.
 
They were wrong. Beginning with five converted merchantmen, America’s sailors became formidable warriors, matching their wits, skills, and courage against the best of the British fleet. Victories off American shores gave the patriots hope—victories led by captains such as John Barry, the fiery Irish-born giant; fearless Nicholas Biddle, who stared down an armed mutineer; and James Nicholson, the underachiever who finally redeemed himself with an inspiring display of coolness and bravery. Meanwhile, along the British coastline, daring raids by handsome, cocksure John Paul Jones and the “Dunkirk Pirate,” Gustavus Conyngham—who was captured and sentenced to hang but tunneled under his cell and escaped to fight again—sent fear throughout England. The adventures of these men and others on both sides of the struggle rival anything from Horatio Hornblower or Lucky Jack Aubrey. In the end, these rebel sailors, from the quarterdeck to the forecastle, contributed greatly to American independence.
 
Meticulously researched and masterfully told, Give Me a Fast Ship is a rousing, epic tale of war on the high seas—and the definitive history of the American Navy during the Revolutionary War.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
05/26/2014
McGrath (John Barry: An American Hero in the Age of Sail) enhances his position among American Revolution naval war historians with this comprehensive, fast-paced account of the collection of armed merchantmen (non-naval vessel) manned by amateurs that took on the world’s greatest naval power. America’s Continental Navy was seriously overmatched by the British, yet in the spring of 1776 a Yankee squadron took two British forts in the Bahamas, returned home laden with military stores, and supported the U.S. Marine Corps in its first amphibious landing. By 1777 “the naval war was being taken to George III’s backyard,” as a Continental squadron “sent the mighty British Empire into fits of temper and hand-wringing.” As the war progressed, small ships had better survival odds than the more glamorous frigates that drew British attention they could not match. McGrath’s vivid treatment of the Continental Navy’s teething troubles highlights the contributions of such lesser-known captains as Gustavus Conyngham, Jack Barry, and Joshua Barney, usually overshadowed by the spectacular achievements of John Paul Jones. He also addresses financial troubles, desertions, and mutinies of those early years. McGrath demonstrates that, despite the crises that threatened to marginalize the Continental Navy, its fighting spirit and outrageous optimism began a tradition that endures. Maps. (July)
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-05-29
Provincial sailors challenge an empire in this rousing account of the Continental Navy.In late 1775, the Continental Congress set out to assemble a modest navy to confront the British warships that had been shelling Colonial towns. After independence was declared, the navy’s duties expanded to include escorting merchantmen and harassing British shipping. The project appeared nearly impossible—the British fleet was the world’s most powerful—and the notion that it could be effectively opposed by a few hastily built or purchased ships appeared preposterous—all of which just makes this story the more stirring. McGrath(John Barry: An American Hero in the Age of Sail, 2010) delivers a lively history of the Continental Navy, from its birth at the urging of John Adams to the end of the war, replete with political and diplomatic intrigue, personal tragedies, shipwrecks, prison escapes and plenty of sea battles. John Paul Jones is here, of course, but the author also brings to the fore such lesser-known but equally audacious warriors as Gustavus Conyngham and John Barry. Throughout, the commanders battle not just the enemy, but the incompetence to be expected in a fledgling military service, as well as shortages of men, arms and money, often exacerbated by a dilatory and bankrupt Congress whose members were financing privateers competing with the navy for resources. With discouraging frequency, the new navy’s ships were wrecked, sunk or captured to be used against the rebellious colonists, but the tiny fleet nevertheless provided critical assistance by supplying Washington’s army with desperately needed munitions and supplies; the fleet also diverted British naval resources by carrying the war into European and Caribbean waters. McGrath puts readers at ease by unobtrusively explaining the technical aspects of naval warfare in the age of sail. His gripping descriptions of pursuit and combat at sea are the equal of any fiction, with the added virtue of being entirely true.Solidly researched history presented with verve and gusto.
From the Publisher
“In Tim McGrath's Give Me a Fast Ship, early American naval literature has found a proud new flagship…. It is rare for a one-volume work to fill the sails of personalities and battles separated from the modern reader by nearly two centuries, but Give Me a Fast Ship pulls it off beautifully. His descriptions are vivid, his commanders three-dimensional, and he evinces a genuine love of the world of white sails and black powder. When Give Me a Fast Ship drops anchor, the reader returns from an adventure cruise with respect for the men who fought the Revolution at sea.”The Wall Street Journal
 
Give Me a Fast Ship is less a history of the birth of the U.S. Navy at the outbreak of the Revolution than it is a rousing collection of tales describing battles against the British, the Continental Congress and among rival captains…. Tim McGrath is a storyteller writ large… McGrath explains the details of 18th century navies with a deft pen and a decidedly nautical viewpoint. This is a delight to read.”The Kansas City Star
 
“[McGrath’s] gripping descriptions of pursuit and combat at sea are the equal of any fiction, with the added virtue of being entirely true…. Solidly researched history presented with verve and gusto.”Kirkus, starred review
 
“McGrath enhances his position among American Revolution naval war historians with this comprehensive, fast-paced account of the collection of armed merchantmen (non-naval vessel) manned by amateurs that took on the world’s greatest naval power.”Publishers Weekly
 
“In telling this fascinating and sprawling tale, Tim McGrath never loses sight of the human dimension of his subject. He has mined archival sources largely neglected in previous histories, and the result is an exhaustively researched and fluently rendered account of the first incarnation of the American navy. Give Me a Fast Ship is a thoroughly readable history of an integral aspect of the campaign for American independence.”—Ian W. Toll, author of Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Founding of the U.S. Navy
 
“In Give Me a Fast Ship, naval historian Tim McGrath has given us a meticulous, adrenalin-filled account of the earliest days of the Continental Navy, and a John Paul Jones for our times and for the ages.”—Laurence Bergreen, New York Times bestselling author of Over the Edge of the World: Magellan's Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe and Columbus: The Four Voyages
 
“I’ve seldom enjoyed a work of historical nonfiction as much as Give Me A Fast Ship. Here, Tim McGrath helps readers learn about a vital, if little-known aspect of the American Revolution and feel royally entertained at the same time. That’s a rare combination, and Give Me a Fast Ship is a special book. After reading it, McGrath will be one of your favorite historians, as he now is of mine.”—Jeff Guinn, New York Times bestselling author of Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780451416100
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
07/01/2014
Pages:
544
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.90(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
“An exhaustively researched and fluently rendered account of the first incarnation of the American navy...A thoroughly readable history of an integral aspect of the campaign for American independence.”—Ian W. Toll, author of Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Founding of the U.S. Navy

“I’ve seldom enjoyed a work of historical nonfiction as much as Give Me a Fast Ship...After you read it, McGrath will be one of your favorite historians, as he now is of mine.”—Jeff Guinn, New York Times bestselling author of Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson

“[McGrath’s] gripping descriptions of pursuit and combat at sea are the equal of any fiction, with the added virtue of being entirely true…solidly researched and presented with verve and gusto.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“McGrath enhances his position among American Revolution naval war historians with this comprehensive, fast-paced account of the collection of armed merchantmen (non naval vessel) manned by amateurs that took on the world’s greatest naval power.”—Publishers Weekly

Meet the Author

Tim McGrath is the author of the critically-acclaimed biography John Barry: An American Hero in the Age of Sail and the award-winning Give Me a Fast Ship. An avid sailor, McGrath has published articles in Naval History magazine. He lives outside Philadelphia.

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Give Me a Fast Ship: The Continental Navy and America's Revolution at Sea 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A fast read of an enormous subject. Having read McGrath's book "John Barry" I found it much more detailed and complete. With it one begins to understand the life at sea and the lives of the famous captains of our Revolutionary navy. This book provides an excellent look at the big picture. McGrath has a good writing style. Well researched.
rbacon More than 1 year ago
A great read and a great history of the Continental Navy. My third great grand father Samuel was in the Continental Army and fought in the battle of Saratoga. His brother Ebenezer was in the Continental Navy and served on board the frigate Hancock. The Hancock's captain John Manley was a border in the home of my fourth great grandparents in Medford, Massachusetts and when he was given command of the Hancock he took Ebenezer with him.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ist a great story i bet i havent read but i am geussing by the title and illistrastions and i think that you should read it