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Download Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Founding of the U.S. Navy Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Founding of the U.S. Navy, by Ian W. Toll Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (1,152 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Ian W. Toll Narrator: Stephen Lang Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Before the ink was dry on the Constitution of the United States, the establishment of a permanent military had become the most divisive issue facing the young republic. Would a standing army be the thin end of dictatorship? Would a navy protect American commerce from the vicious depredations of the Barbary pirates, or would it drain the treasury and provoke hostilities with the great powers? How large a navy would suffice? The founders -- particularly Jefferson, Hamilton, Madison, and Adams -- debated these questions fiercely and switched sides more than once.

In 1794, President Washington signed legislation authorizing the construction of six heavy frigates. The unique combination of power, speed and tactical versatility -- smaller than a battleship and larger than a sloop -- that all navies sent on their most daring missions. It was the first great appropriation of federal money and the first demonstration of the power of the new central government, calling for the creation of entirely new domestic industries, and the extraction of natural resources from the backwoods of Maine to the uninhabited coastal islands of Georgia.

From the complicated politics of the initial decision, through the cliffhanger campaign against Tripoli, to the war that shook the world in 1812, Ian W. Toll tells this grand tale with the political insight of Founding Brothers and a narrative flair worthy of Patrick O'Brian. In the words of Henry Adams, the 1812 encounter between USS Constitution and HMS Guerriere "raised the United States in one half hour to the rank of a first class power in the world." Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • “Toll provides perspective by seamlessly incorporating the era's political and diplomatic history into his superlative single-volume narrative—a must-read for fans of naval history and the early American Republic.” 

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Not confined to sea battles, Toll’s history of the U.S. Navy’s formative decades… rounds out affairs by anchoring the nascent navy to its financial supports…Toll makes an impressive debut.”


  • “As we hear of how USS Constitution earned her nickname of ‘Old Ironsides’ and the audacity of the raiders led by Lt. Stephen Decatur to burn USS Philadelphia in Tripoli, we are treated to Lang’s smooth baritone, subtle expression, and seemingly effortless delivery.” 


  • “A welcome contribution to the small library of early American naval history, deserving a place alongside one of the last such books—by a pre-presidential Theodore Roosevelt.” 

    Kirkus Reviews

  • Winner of the 2007 Colby Award

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Brian | 2/20/2014

    " This book tries to seeks to cover three areas of American naval history in its earliest period. It covers the very beginning which includes the debates on whether or not to build vessels and what type they should be. This book seeks to tell an overview of the three parts of the story without going into exhausting detail on anyone part. The debates between the federalists and the republicans are legendary and while not captured fully here enough of the story is told. The second section is dedicated to the fighting on the shores of Tripoli. This tales covers the time from the destruction of the Philadelphia through the heroic efforts to keep the marauders at bay. The final section of the book is dedicated to the War of 1812 and truly shows how Jefferson's party had no idea what to do with a navy. Their ignorance was truly shocking and the war was misconduct from the start. The book reminds us of the victories that were occurring on the sea and make the War of 1812 a little less bleak. That being said we were hopelessly outmatched by British sea power and this book captures it well. Highly enjoyable read for those who want to see the early history of the United States from the perspective of the navy. This is a great addition to the literature. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by danny | 2/18/2014

    " A wonderfully readable book on maritime/US naval history. A primer on the political scene during America's formative years as well as a masterful retelling of America's rousing naval victories at the commencement of the War of 1812. If you have an appreciation for Patrick O'Brian's prose, you will love this book. In fact, author Ian Toll excerpts O'Brian's "The Fortune of War" to describe the USS Constitution's sinking of the HMS Java. You'll feel right at home... Good, good, good stuff. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Darren | 2/8/2014

    " Great book on the founding of the US Navy and the political world of our country in its begining. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by John | 2/7/2014

    " Interesting history of the early US Navy. "

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