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Stoddert's War: Naval Operations During the Quasi-War with France, 1798-1801 (Classics of Naval Literature) Hardcover – December 1, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-1557506641 ISBN-10: 1557506647 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Series: Classics of Naval Literature
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press; 2nd edition (December 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557506647
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557506641
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,832,083 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael E. Fitzgerald on July 13, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Because there was no formal declaration of war, in most histories the US navel war with France is mentioned only in passing. It is referred to as a quasi war, i.e., not really a war, and most historians brush-block it as they move on to what they consider more important topics. Author Michael A. Palmer disagrees, indicating it was a most significant engagement in many ways and was fought over France's colonial crown jewels, their sugar islands in the Caribbean. Palmer makes the following cogent points as to why it needs to be examined in greater detail:

1) It was the first foreign conflict fought under the new Constitution. As such, the realities of the diplomatic situation abroad and the political situation at home made a formal declaration of war extremely difficult. France was embroiled in its own revolution and a major portion of the American people realized that their newly won independence was due in no small part to France's support during the Revolutionary War. There were strong feelings of fealty toward France so a formal declaration of war was untenable in certain portions of America.

2) This war established the US Navy. Initially, America was without any naval assets and the proposition of starting a Navy from scratch was a huge financial undertaking. Moreover, much of the American public was uneasy with strong militaries. But French depredation was systematic and left no choice. France seized over 800 American ships, one third to one half of America's merchant marine and a US naval presence was necessary when it became obvious that France was adamant regarding seizing US maritime assets.

3) The war was not a short flare up. It lasted roughly 2 years. The U.S.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By SCM on March 29, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Confession: I had no intention of reading this except as a reference for some historical minutia.

Please excuse me for a moment, while I come to grips with my shame.

***

Okay, better.

Like I said, hadn't been intending to read it straight through...but once I started reading, I couldn't stop. Now it's so tabbed and highlighted (multi-colored, because that's how OCD readers roll) that it looks like one of my law school casebooks.

With the Bicentennial of the War of 1812, there's been a lot of focus on that as a "forgotten war." (A minor rant: forgotten by whom? Isn't American history still required in high school? Please, publishers: stop calling it forgotten. Your target readership knows about it already. Really.)

Ahem.

The real forgotten war of the Early Republic is the Quasi-War with France. And if you though the US was unprepared for the War of 1812, it had nothing on the Quasi-War. And the primary reason the US came out of that conflict as well as it did was the leadership of Benjamin Stoddert.

Palmer's book is tightly written, authoritative, full of details I'd never read elsewhere, and--joy of joys--relies heavily on primary sources (although the bibliography is an amazing starting point for someone looking to dive into the history of this era with secondary sources).

This is not a broadside-by-broadside account of the war (although Palmer certainly relays battles with detail and fluency), but an illustration of how one man, by force of will and a knack for politicking, managed to produce a navy out of (almost) thin air. It's both social history of the early navy and diplomatic history of internecine American departments.

If you like age of sail history and the history of the early Republic, you must read this. Must.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Matthew M. on March 6, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Stoddert's War" is a fantastic account on the quasi-war between the nascent United States and France. One of the only works on the subject I've been able to track down, Palmer's writing is indispensable to research concerning the Early Republic and the challenges it faced internationally.
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