View Full Version : Six Frigates

08-12-2012, 00:16
Submit a Book ReviewBook Title:
Six Frigates Author:
Ian W. Toll ISBN:
13: 978-0-393-05847-5 Category:
History Format:
Paperback and Hardback Summary:
Six Frigates tells of the founding of the U. S. Navy, centering the story on the original six frigates ordered built to combat the Barbary pirates. The book flows smoothly and is an entertaining read while providing a wealth of information.


04-23-2013, 15:56
I am reading this now - about 1/3 of the way into it, and I am enjoying it immensely. I'm not familiar with this period of history as it relates to naval history, so it is fascinating to read about some of the great political conflicts in early American history through a completely different lens. John Adams comes across as far greater foresight and political acumen than Jefferson and Hamilton, at least through 1801, and his actions during his term in office had profound consequences for the United States.

The writing is engaging, and clearly intended for a general audience. For a layman such as myself, his use of nautical terminology is challenging but without being overwhelming. I haven't been able to spot any glaring omissions in the events of this period so far. However, I do wish he discussed a little more of the political relations between the US and UK during the Quasi-war between the US and France. This period of time, at the end of the 18th century, is obviously one in which all the great powers were jockeying for power, so I'm curious to know more about how the UK acted towards them during this conflict.

04-23-2013, 16:19
Michael, let me know if would like to kibitz on this book. I just got it last week, but haven't started it yet.

Check out Bobby's review on The Naval War of 1812 by Roosevelt: http://sailsofglory.org/showthread.php?543-The-Naval-War-of-1812

It is well worth the read.

04-23-2013, 16:48

I will definitely check it out. Roosevelt is a fascinating character in history in his own right, and I had no idea he had written a book about the War of 1812. I will add it to my list of books to read.

In terms of Six Frigates, I'd love to know what others think of the book, especially those who already have some knowledge of naval history during that era. Toll is careful not to paint anyone too obviously as heroes or villains, but he is quick to point out the significance of each person as they are introduced in the book, even as he takes his time in explaining just what that person's contribution ultimately turn out to be. As an example, when Joshua Humphries is introduced early in the book, Toll lets us know that this guys is HUGE and that he will be a major player in the development of the US Navy, without fully explaining at first what what his contribution will exactly be. This style of writing works for me, although I recognize that others may not like it so much. He does the same for Truxton, whose influence is just becoming apparent in the book. Good stuff.

04-23-2013, 16:56
If your interested in the development of US ships, you might also want to check this one out:


04-23-2013, 17:00
Not only did Roosevelt write a book on the War of 1812, he did it at a young age. It is a bit humbling to be honest. The introductory material on Roosevelt was worth reading in its own right. You can learn a lot about Age-of-Sail from it.

I will start Six Frigates this week. Maybe we could get Oprah to moderate a book club session. Then again, maybe not.

Old Ironsides
11-03-2013, 11:57
I am reading this book right now. Just reached the part where the U.S.S. Constellation is tearing apart the French Frigate. I knew about their involvement in the War of 1812 and the Barbary Pirates, but much of the rest is new to me.

Cannot wait for the 2nd release of SoG and the first has not even arrived yet. :)

11-03-2013, 12:16
Didn't read the book but, I listened to the CD's twice. Great on long drives.

Keep on Truxtun
01-26-2014, 12:44
Just finishing this amazing novel now. Ian Toll has rapidly become one of my favorite authors. Check out his other work, "Pacific Crucible", for incredible insight on the US Navy's Pacific War struggles from the moments after Pearl Harbor to the victory at Midway.

01-26-2014, 12:54
Just finishing this amazing novel now. Ian Toll has rapidly become one of my favorite authors. Check out his other work, "Pacific Crucible", for incredible insight on the US Navy's Pacific War struggles from the moments after Pearl Harbor to the victory at Midway.

If you enjoyed Six Frigates you might also try these two books:



05-02-2014, 06:57
About 75% through this one now and have learnt much! Surprisingly the things I learnt were not the ones I was expecting (unknown unknowns I suppose). The detail on the early political processes of the Republic are fascinating and enlightening showing the new nation struggling to come to terms with what it means to be a nation rather than a collection of states and what are the responsibilities of that nation beyond its'shores. The power shifts within the various administrations make fine reading even without the naval aspects as does the infighting amongst the fledgling naval officer corps.

The importance of naval policy and debate to the embryonic thinking of the Republic, the impact it had and the decisions arrived at and sometimes fallen into, show as much a history of the early USA over and above the history of the early navy.

The other thing I found so interesting was just how long these ships spent out of service, often needing extensive re-fitting after only one voyage. Frequently put into "mothballs" they would have to be refitted again soon after when needs dictated. The manpower issues to build and maintain the ships both on land and at sea and the deprivations of forced impressment from ships at sea by RN vessels are extensively covered and shine further light on the problems of trying to become a naval power (well local power anyway). Great reading.

Northern Wolves
06-21-2016, 16:58
I'm listening to this one for the 2rd time on Audible, it cannot be over recommended. Only the Naval War of 1812 by Roosevelt rates higher for me in must read status.