Profile for A. G. Corwin > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by A. G. Corwin
Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,357,292
Helpful Votes: 457

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
A. G. Corwin
(REAL NAME)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
pixel
Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq
Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq
by Michael R. Gordon
Edition: Hardcover

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gordon and Trainer produce a superbly written and informative history of the 2003 Iraq War.,, 11 Dec 2006
Michael Gordon and retired Marine Lt.Gen Bernard Trainer are famed as the authors of the definitive history of the 1991 Iraq War entitled the General's War. Their latest history, Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq, is by far the most factual, balanced, and comprehensive book written to date about the 2003 Iraq invasion.

Gordon and Trainer draw from an incredibly diverse and wide range of sources: personal interviews, military planning documents, news reports, and experiences as embedded reporters during the ground campaign. The book smoothly details the process of the war from early planning to execution and to the occupation afterwords. Exceptional detail sheds light on the tension between CENTCOM, the Pentagon, and the White House, the tactical decisions and movements of the Army 3rd Infantry Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, and special operatros who operated in Western Iraq. The amount of detail and the straightforward writing style give an intimate glimpse into the decision making process, and help the reader form their own conclusions based on the evidence at hand.

Considering the controversial topic, it is most impressive that the authors remain non-partisan throughout. Criticism is leveled where appropriate. Secretary Rumsfeld's decision to push for lower troop levels and the lack of US post-war planning contributed directly to the post-war choas and ongoing insurgency. CENTCOM commander Franks is shown as an abrasive personality determined to win the war, without much regard to what would happen after. The authors also do an excellent job clearing up commonly held misconceptions about the war. For example, the President was not as eager to invade Iraq as commonly believed; Al-Qaida was the highest priority, and his decision for invasion came only after the Pentagon, Intel Community, and military all agreed that Iraq presented a long term threat to the United States. It is also revealed that senior leaders in the Iraqi government believed they possessed large chemical and biological stockpiles, and it was not until the eve of the war that Saddam told his shocked generals that they had no weapons. The fact that Saddam hid that information from all of his closest advisors makes the US government's incorrect WMD assessments more understandable in hindsight.

Ultimately, it will take several decades and the release of millions of documents before a more comprehensive analysis and history can be written. At that point, the players involved can be judged for posterity. For now, Gordon and Trainer presents the facts as they are currently known, and let the reader judge the rest. Cobra II is by far the best book on the subject and will likely remain so for years to come. This book is highly recommended.


Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq
Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq
by Thomas E. Ricks
Edition: Hardcover

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ricks gets it right...Detailed, sourced, and factual accounting of disastrous US involvement in Iraq, 11 Dec 2006
Thomas Ricks was always a good writer, but was best known for his work at the Washington Post until his excellent book "Making the Corps" hit shelves. It was a book full of rich detail and honest, factual conclusions. With "Fiasco" Ricks outdoes himself and dozens of writers who have tackled the quagmire that is the Iraq War. Drawing from hundreds of interviews, press conferences, and policy papers, Ricks reveals the progression of mistakes and bad decisions that turned a winnable war into a quicksand-like mess of epic proportions, without cloaking himself in partisan colors.

From CENTCOM to the Pentagon and White House, initial planning for the war took on a bare-bones, best case scenario. Rumsfeld and his sycophantic policy advisors Wolfowitz and Feith believed the Iraqis would welcome the US in, and few troops would be needed; they weren't afraid to bully their opinions into policy or twist vague intelligence to fit their theories. They believed that the war would end, a new Iraqi government would form, and America could walk away with a shiny new victory over the forces of evil. Any soldier worth their salt could tell you, though, you plan for the worst possible scenarios, so you are ready for any eventuality. While Rumsfeld and gang take some deserved hard hits, Ricks makes the interesting assertation that President Bush was not obsessed with going to war with Saddam as other authors have claimed, but that going to war with Iraq was a necessary next step after Afghanistan. The President comes across as a disinterested observer. I personally disagree with this assessment, but Ricks argues his case well.

Though the invasion was successful and fast, the fall of Baghdad didn't bring about the end; in fact the months that followed were merely the portent to the insurgency. Lacking any kind of cohesive plans for the post-war Iraq, both civilian and military stumbled their way forward. Ricks discusses many of Paul Bremer's horrendous decision making as head of the CPA, most notably the dissolving of the Iraqi Army which created a ready-made force of angry, unemployed young men with military training and experience. He addresses how the Army and Marines philosophy of overwhelming with superior firepower didn't adapt to the new reality of counter-insurgency. Ricks also points out how slow commanders in the field were to realize they needed to fight a counter-insurgency war and praises those like Marine General Mattis and Col.H.R. McMaster who did.

The book reads fast, despite some awkward grammatical structuring, and actually contains a extensive list of footnotes and source material used in writing the book, something James Risen should have paid more attention to. Ricks' sources give this book credibility, as does Ricks' refusal to sling mud for mud's sake. Ricks does slip a bit with a tendency to over-focus on negative incidents by units like the 4th ID and 1st Marines, casting a negative light on a division or regiment rather than the individuals involved. Overall though, he is incredibly fair and honest in describing what truly has become a fiasco, and this book should be required reading at all levels of the government.

A.G. Corwin

St.Louis, MO


Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947
Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947
by Christopher M. Clark
Edition: Hardcover

99 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Expansive and detailed history of the Prussian Empire,, 11 Dec 2006
Rich in detail, Christopher Clark's new book Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia 1600-1947, is a welcome addition to the multitude of histories covering central Europe. Clark brings to life an era of Prussian history that is little known aside from the 19th and 20th century Kaisers and this expansive history is a fine piece of research.

Clark analyzes the transformation of the Prussian empire from its small Brandenburg origins to the dominant European power it became. The book covers all the major rulers from the Great Elector to Frederick the Great to Kaiser "Willy", and examines in detail the social, political, economic and military issues that played such a part in the development of Prussia. Where Clark especially shines is the detail of the empire's early years with the Great Elector and his two successors. In this era Prussia gained extensive swaths of territory through alliances and marriages, even as it went through internal and religious strife at home. Clark has clearly done his homework, scouring through dusty archives and examining in multiple languages the papers of the empire, most notably the Political Testaments (a letter of sorts to the next King) of the early Kings. Clark examines the successes of the Prussian military machine, with its strength of the canton regimental system, and the growth of the civil service and judiciary. The political maneuverings between Prussia, France, England, Russia, and Austria make for fascinating reading, with Prussia somehow managing to come out ahead more often than not (conversely, Austria managed to always find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory).

This is a large book, and takes a while to get through. Clark's writing style is fairly fluid, rich with detail, but the structure of the book is more thematic as opposed to linear, at least in the early chapters. For example, the clash of Lutheranism and Calvanism in the early empire spanned many decades and three different rulers, with the text jumping back and forth between the years. After a few chapters, it's hard to keep focus on who is ruling and what territory is gained, but it does get better as you get deeper into the book. This however, is a minor fault and may be more based on my writing preferences rather than any fault of the author's. All in all though, it is a very solid book and a nice addition to your history shelf. Recommended.

A.G. Corwin

St.Louis, MO


The Black Parade
The Black Parade
Price: £6.98

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, Depressing, and Energetic...A Winning Combination for My Chemical Romance.,, 11 Dec 2006
This review is from: The Black Parade (Audio CD)
New Jersey has been the breeding ground for some very interesting and disparate musical sounds. Musicians like Springsteen and Bon Jovi paved the way for the hard working, blue-collar musical pedigree that symbolizes Jersey's everyman roots. Work hard, work often, and make music you enjoy. My Chemical Romance is a band whose work ethic and energy match that of their musical talent. Incorporating sounds from three generations of punk, rock, metal, and pop and even a bit of Broadway,"The Black Parade" delivers dark and morbid with enough punch and emotion to make it a record that needs to find a way into your collection.

The themes of death and dying are frequent on this album, especially in the first few tracks. The opener "The End" is a bombastic track that could have fit perfectly on Pink Floyd's "The Wall". It's symbolically abrupt ending segues into the energetic and fast-paced track "Dead". Heavy guitars propel the metal pounding of "This is How I Disappear" and continue on the gothic and melodic sound of "The Sharpest Lives". First single "Welcome to the Black Parade" showcases the signature sound of the band: loud, melodic, and anthemic. Though death is a constant in each track, ironically, so is life. Vocalist Gerard Way and company embue each track with enough melody and spirit to break through the dark themes.

Toning down with Way's emotionally pained vocals of "I Don't Love You", MCR kicks the guitars back up with the bass-driven hard sound of "House of Wolves". "Cancer" has a haunting and depressing chorus,"The hardest part of this, is leaving you.." but is a beautifully bitter look at a man dying in his hospital bed. "Mama" is another great track, starting with a jaunty melody that kicks into a lively chorus. "Sleep" doesn't really stand out, but "Teenagers" and "Disenchanted" are quite impressive. "Famous Last Words" is one of the best tracks on the album, blending multiple musical styles into a cohesive and entertaining mix that ends the album on a great note (there is a one minute long, bizarre and Beatle-esque hidden track called "Blood").

Clocking in at just over 52 minutes, "The Black Parade" is a wonderful collection of tracks. Elements of bands from Kiss to Queen to Green Day are clearly present, but so are shades of Broadway and opera; clearly My Chemical Romance has a sound incorporating many musical influences. The record's production values are solid; Frank Iero and Ray Toro's guitars are right in your face but Way's vocals get buried at times. Though dark thematically, emotionally, and lyrically, this album has enough life and commercial viability that it should meet with the same success as "Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge". Fans of the band will find plenty to enjoy, and this could be the album that breaks them into the mainstream. For these Jersey boys, though, I think they will be quite content building their fan base the blue-collar way, one grand album at a time. Highly Recommended.

A.G. Corwin

St.Louis, MO


Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone
Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone
by Rajiv Chandrasekaran
Edition: Hardcover

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An insightful glimpse into the world of the CPA in Baghdad..., 11 Oct 2006
In recent months a deluge of books regarding the war in Iraq have hit the shelves. Few, however, stand out for their impartiality and refusal to pass judgement. Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone by Rajiv Chandrasekaran is one of those books, offering a well-written and fascinating narrative of the Americans who came to Iraq after the war. Chandrasekaran identifies key mistakes made by the CPA and profiles some of the main figures, but also delves into the experiences of the lower-level staffers who made up the bulk of the CPA. This book is an important addition to the public's knowledge about America's place in Iraq.

Written from a first person perspective, the narrative is smooth and flowing, though it does take a while to pick up. Interspersed with the chapters on the CPA's efforts are vignettes on life inside the Green Zone. Some are amusing, some identify the political influences of the staffers, and many address some of the more bizarre decisions made. During the course of the narrative, the author identifies several problems that hindered the CPA's goal of remaking Iraq. First, little post-war planning was done by the DoD and Department of State, and when it came to plan, political tensions dominated. Second, Bremer's dismissal of the Iraqi Army created a ready-made force of trained, but unemployed soldiers who could have become the foundation of a new Iraqi Army and Police, but instead joined the religious militias or the insurgency. Third, those chosen to staff the CPA were often very young with little or no experience; many were chosen based on their political affiliations. Eager to go to Iraq out of patriotism and adventure, most only stayed 3-4 months, making it increasingly difficult to plan and execute the rebuilding program. Additionally, staffers were assigned elaborate tasks in fields that they had no experience in, such as a 24-year old with no experience in finance being selected to remake and rebuild the Baghdad Stock Exchange.

Another major problem was the existence of the Green Zone, which became a self-contained American city in the middle of Baghdad. Travel outside the Green Zone was infrequent or non-existent. For security reasons only personnel with the need to enter Baghdad could go, which is understandable from a security perspective. Ironically, reporters like Chandrasekaran lived outside the Green Zone and traveled without difficulty throughout Iraq. Without first hand knowledge of what was happening outside the Zone, the CPA had difficulty making successful policy decisions. Lots of ideas that sounded good on paper didn't work well outside the Zone. As one staffer is quoted, "they (the iraqis) just kept doing their thing, and we sort of played in our little, imaginary world over at the CPA." Finally, the CPA leadership believed that importing American economic, governmental, and financial systems and establishing them in Iraq was the best solution. As history has shown, however, our systems were ill-suited for Iraq.

Imperial Life is more about the author's observations on the lives and work of folks inside the Green Zone and how they impacted post-war Iraq than a detailed political and military history (of which dozens of titles exist). Chandrasekaran wisely leaves it to the reader to make personal judgements. He concentrates instead on what he saw and witnessed during his time in Baghdad, and it makes for a solid and relevant story. For more perspective on the CPA, pick up Rory Stewart's The Prince of the Marshes, a look at his time as a CPA provincial governer in Southern Iraq. Recommended.

A.G. Corwin

St.Louis, MO


State of Denial: Pt. 3: Bush at War (Bush at War Part 3)
State of Denial: Pt. 3: Bush at War (Bush at War Part 3)
by Bob Woodward
Edition: Hardcover

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Woodward hits hard in Volume III of his GWOT history, 11 Oct 2006
State of Denial, the third book in famed journalist Bob Woodward's examination of the Bush administration's approach to war, is sure to be one of the most controversial. State of Denial looks at the policy decisions and inner maneuverings of the administration as America got deeper and deeper into the quagmire that is the Iraq War. As one can see by the reviews already up on Amazon, emotions are running high since Woodward has taken a decidedly harsh view towards the administration. Ironically for Woodward, he was taken to task for being an administration cheerleader in the first two volumes. What State of Denial shows us is that no matter your personal politics, it's important to understand why decisions were made, who were making them, and what people inside the government are saying about the conduct of the war to date. Woodward accomplished that quite well here, thanks to interviews with many of the key players in the process (though notably not with the President and Vice-President.)

One of the main focuses of the book is Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who has been under heavy criticism for his heavy-handed management of the war and his failures to make tactical and strategic adjustments. Rumsfeld is in charge of a Pentagon intent on spending billions on high tech and unnecessary weapon systems like the F-22, the DDG-1000 destroyer, and the Army FCS while making little effort on raising the overall troop strength of the Army and Marine Corps. Even with the chorus of military and politicians calling for Rumsfeld's firing, it still comes as a surprise that Andrew Card, Bush's chief of staff and top advisor was pushing for Rumsfeld's ouster as early as 2004. Woodward also claims Card enlisted First Lady Laura Bush in the effort, a story that seems somewhat apocryphal. In several in-depth interviews with Woodward, Rumsfeld comes across as honest, arrogant, and firmly believing in his own success despite the torrent of criticism he receives from the military and NSC staffers interviewed for the book.

Some of the newer nuggets of information offered in the book are fascinating. Woodward reveals that then National Security Advisor Condi Rice was briefed in July 2001 by CIA Director George Tenet and CIA counter-terror expert Cofer Black on the increasing likelihood of an attack on US interests. Woodward discusses how Prince Bandar, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, was a key player in advising President Bush before and after 9/11. Another of the book's most interesting revelations is that Henry Kissinger regularly advises President Bush and Vice-President Cheney. Considering Kissinger's status as the architect of a failed Vietnam policy, this tidbit only reinforces Woodward's assertion that the administration refuses to do anything other than "stay the course." Throughout the book the administration is portrayed as as blind to the reality of the Iraq War as it was eager to paint a rosy public picture, ignoring or classifying facts that didn't fit its view of success and labeling those who disagreed as negative and not "team players."

As with many other Woodward books, the book reads quickly and quite cleanly. The level of detail is impressive, and State of Denial expands upon the material covered by James Risen and Thomas Ricks. The material on Bremer and his disasterous tenure as head of the Coalition Provisional Authority was adroitly addressed in detail in Rajiv Chandrasekaran's Imperial Life in the Emerald City, and Woodward doesn't add anything new in that regard. One wonders how much of the material given by Woodward's sources is slanted to better represent their role in history's judgemental eye and how much is actual truth. Woodward lays out the material in its entirety from the many sources, and lets the reader decide which is revisionist and which is reality. Partisans on both side will either love or hate this book regardless of its content, but as a whole this book is fair and balanced. Woodward is no partisan attack dog, he is a journalist committed to telling a story fairly and accurately without regard to what his critics may think. Highly Recommended.

A.G. Corwin

St. Louis, MO


Songs From The Labyrinth
Songs From The Labyrinth
Price: £7.73

21 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sting: Songs From the Labyrinth....Fans of the Lute, Rejoice!, 11 Oct 2006
Musical legend Sting returns with what can only be described as a concept album, entitled Songs from the Labyrinth. Inspired by the gift of a lute from a friend, Sting learned songs from an Elizabethan artist named John Dowland and enjoyed it so much he decided to put it on tape. Despite an elegant sound and some solid vocals by Sting, the collection is just too different to really appeal to a wide audience.

This is an album where the songs sound so similar, its difficult to distinguish between them, even after several listens. Additionally, there are odd spoken word vignettes sprinkled through the album which distract greatly. There is a pleasant simplicity to the album that would probably make certain tracks a perfect fit for period movies, but little stands out or energizes the listener. There are a few nice tracks, including the elegant "Come Again" and the delicate instrumentals "Forlorn Hope Fancy" and "My Lord Willoughby's Welcome Home." This is clearly a labour of love by an artist that will not capture the same attention in its audience. Sting does get style points for effort, but Songs From The Labyrinth is not recommended except for serious lute fans.

A.G. Corwin

St. Louis, MO


Sam's Town
Sam's Town
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £4.86

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Killers: Sam's Town...Second full album shows growth and maturity., 11 Oct 2006
This review is from: Sam's Town (Audio CD)
Returning to their home town of Las Vegas must have re-energized The Killers. Recorded in the Palms Hotel recording studio, the new release Sam's Town showcases the band's growth with a stronger and more musically diverse sound while still retaining the commercial viability and energy of Hot Fuss. Brandon Flowers and The Killers have created an interesting and creative album that avoids the dreaded sophomore curse and positions them well for future growth.

The addictive opening track "Sam's Town" has the same punch rhythmically as "Somebody Told Me" but is less reliant on synths and more on electric guitar. The piano-based "Enterlude" showcases a softer sound with Brandon Flowers' voice fragile and emotional before it amps up and punches into the rocking first single "When You Were Young." Despite its title, the soaring "Bling(Confession of a King) has shades of the late 80's U2 musically but Flowers can't quite match Bono's vocal style. "For Reasons Unknown" is a low point, but the fun track "Read My Mind" delivers a synth-heavy up-tempo sound that is somewhat reminiscent of the early 80's Talking Heads.

Grounded by a solid bass line, "Uncle Jonny" makes for a great track that thankfully is not overly commercial. Flowers' takes his vocals down a notch for the excellent "Bones" decorated with some great trumpet and sax. The sound of Queen returns with the bombastic track "My List" and "This River Is Wild" is hook-filled and rocking enough to make this a solid second single. "Why Do I Keep Counting?" is much like "My List" in overall sound, but a solid melody keeps this from veering wildly off track. "Exitlude" is a nice touch that speaks to the fans, "We hope you enjoyed your stay..it's good to have you with us, even if it was only a day."

Clocking in at just under 45 minutes long, Sam's Town is a slick-sounding album. Well produced by Flood and Alan Moulder, the average song length is 4 minutes. The album is vastly different in sound from Hot Fuss, which for me makes it that much better. It is less overtly commercial and instead showcases the growth of a more mature band moving forward musically. Flowers' voice is much rawer and emotional here, not buried under layers of modulation, and the band's sound is more vibrant and diverse. The band notes that this record was influenced by Springsteen, but this album does not have much of a Springsteen sound. What it is, however, is an album that will grow on you with every spin. Recommended.

A.G. Corwin

St.Louis, MO


The Open Door
The Open Door
Offered by dutchtoni
Price: £14.74

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Evanescence: The Open Door. A Very Strong Return,, 11 Oct 2006
This review is from: The Open Door (Audio CD)
Major success is a tough act to follow. Selling 6 million copies of its debut album, and delivering the mega hits "Bring Me Back to Life" and "My Immortal", Evanescence and front-woman Amy Lee returns with the hard charging new album, The Open Door. Despite Ben Moody's acrimonious departure, Terry Balsamo has made a great songwriting pair with Lee. Drawing its strength from hard guitar riffs and Lee's soaring voice, the record offers quite a few nuggets of pure rock bliss, enough to get your head banging and your stereo blasting.

Opening track "Sweet Sacrifice" flat out rocks, its thundering guitars matching perfectly with Amy Lee's towering voice. "Call Me When You're Sober" is an wonderfully angry song with dual guitars trading rhythm and melody lines. "Weight of the World" is a fast paced rocker that isn't too distinctive. "Lithium" is a nice piano ballad with strings showcasing Amy Lee's vocal and lyrical range. "Snow White Queen" is chaotic and disorganized, but the classically influenced "Lachrymosa" is fantastic, a bizarrly fascinating mix of strings, guitar, piano, and choir that just flat out soars. This song would be a perfect addition to any soundtrack.

"Like You", a mid-tempo piano-based track, smartly keeps the guitars in the back of the mix until the crescendo. "Weight of the World" and "Cloud Nine" are solid up-tempo rockers laced with grinding guitar work while "All That I'm Living For" and "Good Enough" are more piano-based emotional tracks. "Lose Control" has a dark piano melody that bursts into crunching guitar on the chorus. "The Only One" is a dark ode that is one of the strongest songs on the album emotionally.

Strongly produced to take full advantage of Lee's towering voice, The Open Door is full of growling guitar riffs and emotive piano melodies. The songwriting is solid, and in some cases, exceptional. The loss of Ben Moody is more than made up by the songwriting team of Lee and Balsaro, and this album is one sure to please Evanescence fans and make some converts with some of the singles. Recommended.

A.G. Corwin

St.Louis, MO


Six Frigates: How Piracy, War and British Supremacy at Sea Gave Birth to the World's Most Powerful Navy
Six Frigates: How Piracy, War and British Supremacy at Sea Gave Birth to the World's Most Powerful Navy
by Ian W. Toll
Edition: Hardcover

13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richly Detailed Look at early American Naval History, 11 Oct 2006
Few eras of American history are more misunderstood than the naval history of early America after the Revolutionary War. Former financial analyst and political aide Ian Toll sheds new light on this era in his richly detailed and comprehensive first book, Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Founding of the U.S. Navy. The saga of the original six frigates, the Constitution, Constellation, Congress, President, United States, and the Chesapeake, is one of naval necessity, partisan politics, and the ungainly steps of a young country attempting to defend and assert itself in a dangerous world.

A common misconception in American history is that the original six frigates were begun during the Revolution. As Toll describes in excellent detail, it was in fact under the presidencies of George Washington and John Adams that the decision to form a standing navy was made. With America's merchant fleet under predation from North African pirates, French privateers, and British warships, ships to protect and fly the flag were necessary. An already contentious and partisan Congress argued endlessly over the formation of a American navy to deal with the problem, and finally the Naval Act of 1794 approved funding for the construction of six ships: four 44-gun and two 36-gun frigates. Designed by Joshua Humphreys, the ships were to be the strongest and most effective frigates afloat, a tough job in a world where the Royal Navy dominated. The frigates would play key roles in the quasi-war with France, the Barbary wars, and the War of 1812, and Toll chronicles the personalities, the politics, and the world situation that shaped both the ships and the campaigns in which they took part.

What these ships are best known for, and what is most familiar with the laymen are the battles. Toll describes every major ship-to-ship engagement fought by the original six with a vividness rarely seen in naval histories, rich enough to hear the thunder of the guns and smell the cordite from the gunpowder. The major actions described are: Constellation v. L'Insurgente, Constellation v. La Vengeance, United States v. Macedonian, Constitution v. Guerriere, Constitution v. Java, Shannon v. Chesapeake, and President v. Endymion. Also well addressed are the actions against the Barbary states, including a well-written chapter on the loss of the subscription frigate Philadelphia, and the daring exploits of Stephen Decatur to destroy the captured frigate. The major naval figures of the era like Truxton, Bainbridge, Hull, Decatur, Rodgers, and Bannon are all examined by Toll with an observer's eye that fleshes out the caricatures as most histories portray them into real life men.

The end of the War of 1812 saw the launch of the first American ships-of-the-line, but it was the frigate navy that paved the way. Toll's book is an important addition that clears the mythology away from the early US Navy and incorporates all the naval, economic, political, and social elements that contributed to its founding and formation. Toll occasionally strays out of his lane, and the postscript loses a bit of focus delving into the post Civil War navy, but as a whole, this is an excellent book that will satisfy naval buffs and students of history alike. Toll's elegant and rich writing and exhaustive research marks him as an author to watch, and I eagerly await his next work. The original six frigates played a large part in the prestige of early America. Their successes, and their failures, demonstrated that the young United States was a blossoming world power worthy of respect and regard. Highly Recommended.

A.G. Corwin

St.Louis, MO


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4