- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 7 hours and 10 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Abridged
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: September 25, 2006
- Language: English
- ASIN: B000JCE3CK
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Six Frigates Audiobook – Abridged
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Reviewing it is not a simple task because of all the elements that are available for comment.
First, the book is well referenced and can serve as a THE major history text for primary reference for period just before and during the war of 1812..
Second, The description of the political prejudices of the four Presidents following George Washington and the intrigues of action by them are almost exactly the same as the rhetoric we are now experiencing during the so called 'debates' of the candidates for each party. We came very close to having no Navy at all. The clash of cultures of the agrarian versus financial/merchant classes was not much different from today.
Third, The impact of communication difficulties on international and intranational decision making, the impact on military decision making, is well described throughout. The effects of this issue prior to and during the war of 1812 is well documented.
Fourth, the writing style is more like a mystery writer than an Historian. The reader is kept rapt with the mystery of each new event, the impact of decision making, the unexpected results of battle, stalemate, and the many vagaries of early 18th Century conflict.
Fifth, The impact of 'genteel' culture on the military (especially Naval Officers) is stressed in depth and is quite necessary for the story to be understood fully.
This an excellent book and needs to read. It just might make the reader wonder, when one compares the 'old rhetoric' with the current TV banter and the result of extreme political polarization.
Often, modern historians do two things that I don't like and that keep me from reading them. 1) They bog you down with tons of dates and names but give you little context to hang them on so those facts mean very little. 2) They insist on judging the actions of people in the past by the values of people now. To me, that is the wrong approach. One of the main reasons to study history is to learn about the people that lived before, what they thought and how they did things. There have been some historians that I have had to put down, because they wouldn't stop telling me how terrible (for instance) someone was in the past. Meaning, yes I want to know about them. But I don't really need to hear the authors judgement of them over and over.
Ian W. Toll does an excellent job of making the past more real so I can think about it for myself.
This might be a long book for some, but I never was bored or confused or wishing I was at the end. I'm sure I will read more by this author.
To be clear, the book isn't all action. Their is much detail on the politics of the day and the political and economic conditions of the era covered. The author also gives enough details about the British and the Pasha of Tripoli to give an understanding of their motivations and thinking processes. Although a large part of the book is spent on the War of 1812, it is not a comprehensive history of the conflict, since is primarily focuses on the actions of the US Navy frigates and their role, and covers other battles in only enough detail to put them in context. If you love naval history this is a must read. If you don’t, this book will make you love naval history. 5 stars.