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

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 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451416117
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/07/2015
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 560
Sales rank: 170,467
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Tim McGrath is the author of the critically-acclaimed biography John Barry: An American Hero in the Age of Sail and Give Me a Fast Ship. He is a two-time winner of the Commodore John Barry Book Award and the recipient of the Samuel Eliot Morison Award for Naval Literature. An avid sailor, McGrath has published articles in Naval History magazine. He lives outside Philadelphia.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 "Rebellious Fanaticks" 1

Chapter 2 "If the Rebels Should Pay Us a Visit..." 30

Chapter 3 "I Fear Nothing" 61

Chapter 4 "That Rebel Is My Brother" 91

Chapter 5 "Heaven Has Succeeded Our Adventures" 119

Chapter 6 "The Gang of Pyrates" 149

Chapter 7 "Under the Vault of Heaven" 184

Chapter 8 "Her Teeth Were Too Many" 217

Chapter 9 "In Harm's Way" 251

Chapter 10 "Diamond Cut Diamond" 283

Chapter 11 "Fresh Gales and Dirty Weather" 315

Chapter 12 "Send That Ship to Sea" 347

Chapter 13 Shubael Gardner 380

Epilogue 414

Acknowledgments 426

Endnotes 432

Bibliography 502

Index 526

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

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