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The Captain Who Burned His Ships: Captain Thomas Tingey, USN, 1750-1829 Hardcover – September 15, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press (September 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1612510442
  • ISBN-13: 978-1612510446
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,689,858 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Gordon S. Brown is an author and retired diplomat, whose books include Incidental Architect, about early Washington DC, Toussaint's Clause: The Founding Fathers and The Haitian Revolution, and The Norman Invasion of Southern Italy and Sicily. During a 35-year career in the US Foreign Service he was Ambassador to Mauritania 1991-94, Political Advisor to General Schwarzkopf during the first Gulf War, and Director of Arab Gulf Affairs in the State Department

More About the Author

An author and retired diplomat, Gordon Brown has written a number of historical works, including "The Captain Who Burned his Ships", and "Incidental Architect," both about personalities of early Washington DC; "Toussaint's Clause: The Founding Fathers and The Haitian Revolution", and "The Norman Invasion of Southern Italy and Sicily." During a 35-year career in the US Foreign Service he was ambassador to Mauritania 1991-94, Political Advisor to General Schwarzkopf during the first Gulf War, and Director of Arab Gulf Affairs in the State Department.

Customer Reviews

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By david l. poremba VINE VOICE on December 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover
As the bicentennial of the War of 1812 is almost upon us, the new literature of that forgotten conflict will begin to crowd the bookshelves. The exploits of the United States Navy, especially, will be the subject of a number of wonderful titles.
The Captain Who Burned His Ships is one of those titles but one that takes a different course. Thomas Tingey started his naval career as an officer in the Royal Navy of Great Britain. After a short stint of service, he became a successful merchant captain, sailing out of U.S. ports to various parts of the globe, including the Far East. The Quasi-War with France found him back in naval service as a ship's captain; at the personal request of the secretary of the Navy, he became the first commandant of the Washington Naval Yard. That was in 1801 and he remained there until his death in 1829. During that time, the United States Navy developed into a permanent, valuable addition to the country's defenses and the Washington Navy Yard became the principle facility of the Navy.
Brown's book is more than a biography of a naval administrator who fought his best battles ashore. It is also the story of the growth and development of the Navy Yard and of the young nation's new capitol. Tingey raised his family there, was a part of Washington society and made important contributions to it. In 1814, he was forced to burn his creation to the ground to prevent its capture and use by the invading British. It is a testament to his skill and reputation that the Yard was rebuilt under his leadership.
This book is an important (and quite readable) addition to the literature of the Navy, the War of 1812 and the history of the District of Columbia.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. E. Smith on February 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is a pretty good book about the early days of the US Navy and the new capital of Washington, D.C.
The "Captain Who Burned His Ships" was ex-merchant captain and naval officer Thomas Tingey who took over the Washington Navy Yard just as anti-Navy President Thomas Jefferson took over the White House.
Tingey was a competent, unexciting administrator who shepherded the often underfunded and gradually expanding facility through its first decades. When the British attacked and burned the nation's capital in 1814, he was forced to torch the naval yard to keep it out of enemy hands. Even before the embers cooled, though, Tingey began to oversee its eventual restoration.
Because Tingey brought his family with him to his assignment, the reader gets interesting glimpses of life in the mud-spattered, half-built capital city of the early 1800s.
The author concentrates, however, on the political and financial ins and outs of Navy Yard construction, administration, contracting and personnel management.
Overall this gives a satisfying and detailed look at the man and the subject for those who might be interested.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. A. Nofi on June 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover
A summery of the review on StrategyPage.COM:

'Lives of naval officers focus on stirring deeds afloat, but in this book Brown, a former lifetime Foreign Service officer and part-time historian with eclectic interests, who also wrote Toussaint's Clause: The Founding Fathers and the Haitian Revolution (Adst-Dacor Diplomats and Diplomacy Book), examines the career of an officer who performed most of his duties ashore. In his youth British-born Tingey had served in the Royal Navy and as a merchant mariner. Migrating to America, in 1898 he joined the U. S. Navy as a captain, and did well commanding a ship in the Quasi-War with France. In 1800 he was assigned the task of establishing the nation's first naval base, the Washington Navy Yard. Tingey performed this task well, and arguably twice, having to torch the yard in 1814 as the British descended on Washington, and then rebuild it afterwards. So while there's little fight in this work, there is a great deal on the development of the infrastructure that supported the service, an oft neglected subject in naval history, but an essential one. A good read for anyone interested in war at sea in the age of sail.'

For the full review, see StrategyPage.Com
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Laurence Jarvik on November 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Gordon S. Brown has done yeoman service by resurrecting the life and career of Captain Thomas Tingey, a Washington insider and consummate bureaucrat who survived despite burning his ships and having the US Navy move its main naval facilities out from under his command to Newport, VA. He may not have won many sea-battles, but he won the more important battles in the corridors of power. A fascinating "inside look" at the way history and personality intersected in the crucible of American Independence and the War of 1812.
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