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This fast-paced narrative traces the emergence of the United States Navy as a global power from its birth during the American Revolution through to its current superpower status. The story highlights iconic moments of great drama pivotal to the nation's fortunes: John Paul Jones' attacks on the British in the Revolution, the Barbary Wars, and the arduous conquest of Iwo Ji This fast-paced narrative traces the emergence of the United States Navy as a global power from its birth during the American Revolution through to its current superpower status. The story highlights iconic moments of great drama pivotal to the nation's fortunes: John Paul Jones' attacks on the British in the Revolution, the Barbary Wars, and the arduous conquest of Iwo Jima. The book illuminates the changes--technological, institutional, and functional--of the U.S. Navy from its days as a small frigate navy through the age of steam and steel to the modern era of electronics and missiles. Historian Craig L. Symonds captures the evolving culture of the Navy and debates between policymakers about what role the institution should play in world affairs. Internal and external challenges dramatically altered the size and character of the Navy, with long periods of quiet inertia alternating with rapid expansion emerging out of crises. The history of the navy reflects the history of the nation as a whole, and its many changes derive in large part from the changing role of the United States itself.


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This fast-paced narrative traces the emergence of the United States Navy as a global power from its birth during the American Revolution through to its current superpower status. The story highlights iconic moments of great drama pivotal to the nation's fortunes: John Paul Jones' attacks on the British in the Revolution, the Barbary Wars, and the arduous conquest of Iwo Ji This fast-paced narrative traces the emergence of the United States Navy as a global power from its birth during the American Revolution through to its current superpower status. The story highlights iconic moments of great drama pivotal to the nation's fortunes: John Paul Jones' attacks on the British in the Revolution, the Barbary Wars, and the arduous conquest of Iwo Jima. The book illuminates the changes--technological, institutional, and functional--of the U.S. Navy from its days as a small frigate navy through the age of steam and steel to the modern era of electronics and missiles. Historian Craig L. Symonds captures the evolving culture of the Navy and debates between policymakers about what role the institution should play in world affairs. Internal and external challenges dramatically altered the size and character of the Navy, with long periods of quiet inertia alternating with rapid expansion emerging out of crises. The history of the navy reflects the history of the nation as a whole, and its many changes derive in large part from the changing role of the United States itself.

30 review for The U.S. Navy: A Concise History

  1. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Sankey

    This is clearly the product of a whole career's polishing and refining, as Symonds offers a brief overview of the evolution of the US Navy, especially the waxing and waning tied to political support and funding for constabulary and expeditionary missions. Symonds also clearly tracks changes in technology and social developments, from Civil War nurses to Z-grams about facial hair. The bibliography is sparse and entirely connected to his in-text quotations, so those needing to use this as a spring This is clearly the product of a whole career's polishing and refining, as Symonds offers a brief overview of the evolution of the US Navy, especially the waxing and waning tied to political support and funding for constabulary and expeditionary missions. Symonds also clearly tracks changes in technology and social developments, from Civil War nurses to Z-grams about facial hair. The bibliography is sparse and entirely connected to his in-text quotations, so those needing to use this as a springboard to more complex treatments of issues will come up short, but for general interest, this is an excellent big picture treatment.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    Concise it was. And eloquent too. A great executive summary of the 246 years of the Navy in only 116 pages. I learned a thing or two.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rick Cheeseman

    Weekend read. Nice wave tops accounting. Made a couple of notes for further study....

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lloyd Thrall

    Solid, concise history of the US Navy. "Concise" hear means very brief; for example, there is no coverage of the "Maritime Strategy" of the 1980s, but instead only a few lines on the late Cold War. Still, Symond's book gives a good tour of the historical waterfront, including social and cultural issues within the Navy. Accessible to anyone, this is a great first stop for learning about the Navy, both in its major battles and as an admirable American institution. Solid, concise history of the US Navy. "Concise" hear means very brief; for example, there is no coverage of the "Maritime Strategy" of the 1980s, but instead only a few lines on the late Cold War. Still, Symond's book gives a good tour of the historical waterfront, including social and cultural issues within the Navy. Accessible to anyone, this is a great first stop for learning about the Navy, both in its major battles and as an admirable American institution.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ben Hammerslag

    Well, it's definitely concise. Quick and informative, but leaves a lot of history in the table. For instance, about Commodore Perry we are told that he opened Japan to trade through toughness and perseverance, and we are told what kinds of ships he had. Though the rest of that story isn't a naval story, so it's understandable. A fine jumping off point for further reading, but will likely leave most readers wanting more. Well, it's definitely concise. Quick and informative, but leaves a lot of history in the table. For instance, about Commodore Perry we are told that he opened Japan to trade through toughness and perseverance, and we are told what kinds of ships he had. Though the rest of that story isn't a naval story, so it's understandable. A fine jumping off point for further reading, but will likely leave most readers wanting more.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Larry

    I read it on Veterans' Day while thinking about my dad's naval service in the Pacific during World War II. Unlike Symonds's other books, this was a quick read, but worth the hour or two. I read it on Veterans' Day while thinking about my dad's naval service in the Pacific during World War II. Unlike Symonds's other books, this was a quick read, but worth the hour or two.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rob Roy

    A quick, high level survey of the history of the US Navy. Aside form the review of battles and wars, it does a reasonably good job of showing the changes in sailors themselves. It also, does not end with World War II as Navy histories often do, but takes the reader through the launch of the USS Zumwalt. It was interesting to read about the times I served in, and what has happened since I retired 20 years ago.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Robert Koslowsky

    I enjoyed this quick read about the history of the United States Navy. This military arm of the Department of Defense began as the Continental Navy, born on October 13, 1775. This date serves as the official birth date of the U.S. Navy. I loved the analogy Symonds uses for the navy’s historical development, “from a handful of small sailing craft in the late eighteenth century to the juggernaut of today,” likened to the tracing of a sine wave you view on an oscilloscope, an undulating pattern that I enjoyed this quick read about the history of the United States Navy. This military arm of the Department of Defense began as the Continental Navy, born on October 13, 1775. This date serves as the official birth date of the U.S. Navy. I loved the analogy Symonds uses for the navy’s historical development, “from a handful of small sailing craft in the late eighteenth century to the juggernaut of today,” likened to the tracing of a sine wave you view on an oscilloscope, an undulating pattern that oscillates between peaks and valleys reflecting periods of rapid buildup and then rapid decline of the size of the American naval force over its 250-year existence. [Electrical engineers like myself, love this kind of stuff.] A very visible American navy was an essential component of nationhood, according to Symonds. On top of that, the navy reflects a world where technology constantly changed to transform naval force, “as the Age of Sail gave way to the Age of Steam and Steel, to the Age of Carrier Warfare, and to our modern era of electronic and missile warfare.” Over this evolutionary period of two and a half centuries, “steamships replaced frigates, carriers replaced battleships, and missile platforms replaced gun turrets.” Symonds ties in the evolution of the thinking of policymakers in the nation’s capital. He observes, “In the Age of the Sail the ambitions of American policymakers was to avoid overseas entanglements. In the age of steam and steel the United States began to look outward, and in the later years of the nineteenth century the country embraced a Pacific empire. The twentieth century – the American century – saw the nation, and its navy, emerge to assume the status of global prominence, if not preeminence.” So where are we now? The U.S. Navy has evolved to become, in 2016, the global cop in its varied roles of catching pirates, which was one of its early roles in the Mediterranean; chasing smugglers, a role the navy expanded from simply providing escorts for merchant ships and supply ships; taking out terrorists; and at times playing humanitarian roles when natural disasters strike. Today, the U.S. Navy is one of the most diverse organizations in the country. Its officers have evolved from being assigned positions due to their title to earning leadership roles through rigorous training and time shipboard. Bravo to the American men and women on the high seas who continue to serve their country with distinction!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    A good serviceable quick introduction to the history of the US Navy, basically a lecture. Of course, much is left out, but it should serve as an appetizer to get readers to pick out areas they might have most interest in. Some things seem to have been purposely left out (especially the "black eyes", such as the shooting down of the Iranian airliner, the loss of nuclear bombs, the Iowa explosion, Forrestal, Indianapolis), but I suppose that is to be expected in a short, mostly positive, volume. I A good serviceable quick introduction to the history of the US Navy, basically a lecture. Of course, much is left out, but it should serve as an appetizer to get readers to pick out areas they might have most interest in. Some things seem to have been purposely left out (especially the "black eyes", such as the shooting down of the Iranian airliner, the loss of nuclear bombs, the Iowa explosion, Forrestal, Indianapolis), but I suppose that is to be expected in a short, mostly positive, volume. I applaud his decision to broach some of the social issues, as well as positive improvements to the fleet. As a son of a submariner, I find myself often delving into naval history, and this book would be a good book to hand to youngsters, particularly, to whet their appetite.

  10. 5 out of 5

    E

    Concise indeed. Symonds absolutely flies through 200+ years of American naval history. If you know anything about US history at all, little of the material will be new. However, by bringing the high and low points together in this short volume, Symonds is able to demonstrate the typical "sine curve" pattern of American naval strength. Right now we are clearly in a trough. However, we've been here before, and we've always been able to build up when threats dictate. What we need to be careful not Concise indeed. Symonds absolutely flies through 200+ years of American naval history. If you know anything about US history at all, little of the material will be new. However, by bringing the high and low points together in this short volume, Symonds is able to demonstrate the typical "sine curve" pattern of American naval strength. Right now we are clearly in a trough. However, we've been here before, and we've always been able to build up when threats dictate. What we need to be careful not to do is to slip further, to the point where we cannot maintain our global patrols and deterrence.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rod

    Of course it is superficial. Any book trying to distill 200+ years of history into less than 150 pages would be. While not terrible, what I found disappointing were the occasionally loaded phrases without context and the sloppy photo placement and captions. In the WWI chapter there is a poster for the WAVES from WWII and later a miscaptioned photo allegedly of Curtiss Helldivers but in fact P-47s being transported on a carrier deck. I generally expect better editing from Oxford UP.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Gemma Nguyen

    Got me through History of Sea Power at the Merchant Marine Academy with flying colors! Great book!

  13. 4 out of 5

    C

    Well done This concise but informative review of the history of th US navy is well-written. The references are sufficient to follow-up on any additional information required.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nooilforpacifists

    A "Cliff Notes" history of the United States Navy. A "Cliff Notes" history of the United States Navy.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    A great primer on the US Navy and its role in war and peace in the world since the early days of the republic. Love books like this.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    Perfect for that Midshipman who suddenly needs to know the material after blowing off a semester's worth of reading. Perfect for that Midshipman who suddenly needs to know the material after blowing off a semester's worth of reading.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nicolás Rubiano Blanco

  18. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Hamel

  19. 5 out of 5

    Gunnar Peters

  20. 4 out of 5

    James

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jesse Levinson

  23. 5 out of 5

    Carl Thoemmes

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

  25. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Holtz

  26. 4 out of 5

    Steven Barclift

  27. 5 out of 5

    David Hoyt

  28. 4 out of 5

    Drew

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sergio

  30. 5 out of 5

    Brian

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