George Washington's Secret Navy

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April 27, 2008


Electronic book text, 320 pages


0071643427 / 9780071643429

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Main description

For the first time, the full story of a critical but long-forgotten episode in American history

Covering the span of a single year, George Washington’s Secret Navy tells the tale of how Washington, famous for his solicitousness, modesty, and respect for civilian command, took it upon himself to build a navy without informing Congress or seeking its permission.

James L. Nelson takes the reader from the halls of Congress, where in the summer of 1775 delegates debated how or even whether to fight England, to the front lines, where Washington dealt with the immediate concerns of war. The general knew that victory in the siege of Boston lay in the ability to find weapons, ammunition, food, and clothing for his undersupplied mean, while disrupting the British supply lines. A navy with which to attack British merchant vessels was the only answer--and he couldn’t wait for Congress, one member of which commented that building an American navy was "the maddest idea in the world." George Washington’s Secret Navy is a fascinating story, all the more so for what it reveals of the character and methods of our nation’s founding father.

"[Nelson is] a master of his period and of the English language."
--Patrick O’Brian

Author comments

James L. Nelson is the author of Benedict Arnold’s Navy, as well as several novels that take place during the age of the sailing navies. His first book of nonfiction was Reign of Iron: The Story of the First Battling Ironclads.

Back cover copy

George Washington's Secret Navy has been the happy recipient of two awards this year which speak both to the book's scholarship and the fact that it is a fun story to read. The first is the Rodney Houghton Award, given by the National Maritime Historical Society for the best article of the year in its popular Sea History Magazine. This particular article was an excerpt from George Washington's Secret Navy telling the story of naval battle that took place in Machias, Maine, in 1775, the "Lexington and Concord of the Sea."

The second award given to the book is the Samuel Eliot Morison Award, presented by the Naval Order of the United States to the author "who by his published writings has made a substantial contribution to the preservation of the history and traditions of the United States Navy." The Morison Award is one of the country's top honors given to maritime authors. Past recipients have included David McCullough and Patrick O'Brian.

Copyright 2014 McGraw-Hill Global Education Holdings, LLC


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