Saturday, February 26, 2011

Six Frigates by Ian Toll

What an amazing book!  This book caught my eye while perusing Half Priced Books a while back and I've been itching to read it.

The six frigates the book refers to are the original ships of the line the United State built to form its Navy.

More than anything, this book seemed to be more steeped in history than strictly sticking to the frigates.  And this is so because these first battleships were closely intertwined with the politics of the Adams, Jefferson and Madison administrations.

I learned not only about the beginning of the Navy, but about world history in the period leading up to and including the War of 1812.  I was quite ignorant about this period of history.  Having read this book will also give me a stronger background for the Patrick O'Brian books.  In fact, Toll quoted a part of The Fortune of War which described the battle between Constitution and Java (both wikipedia entries have a section describing the battle between these two ships).

As a side note, when I decorated my office, I wanted a model ship on my shelf.  I ended up finding an old beat-up model at a garage sale.  It is a replica of the Constitution.  I never knew this battleship was so famous and amazing - again, this shows my ignorance and is therefore another reason I'm reading all these historical books.

Toll also provides an epilogue as well as some major events in the Navy and history of the six frigates leading up to 2005.  One of the nuggets he shared was Theodore Roosevelt's obsession with the Navy and some of his policies.  That might be another future book I'll be reading.

Overall, Six Frigates was exceptional.  It held my interest, was very informative and is well written.  It comes complete with an index and references.  Toll did history a tremendous favor with this book.

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