American Naval History: A Very Short Introduction

ISBN : 9780199394760

Craig L. Symonds
168 Pages
111 x 174 mm
Pub date
Apr 2018
Very Short Introductions


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  • Charts the entire history of the U.S. Navy from 1775 to the present
  • Provides a concise, accessible account of a key American institution
  • Covers both specific, pivotal moments and broad historical trends

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 during 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.


List of illustrations
1. An ad hoc navy: the Revolutionary War (1775-1783)
2. Establishing an American navy: the Age of Sail (1783-1809)
3. An American navy confirmed: the War of 1812
4. A constabulary navy: pirates, slavers, and manifest destiny (1820-1850)
5. Steam and iron: the Civil War navy (1850-1865)
6. The doldrums and the new navy (1865-1900)
7. A navy second to none: the U.S. Navy and World War I (1900-1939)
8. The two-ocean navy: the U.S. Navy in World War II (1939-1945)
9. Confronting the Soviets: the Cold War navy (1945-1975)
10. The U. S. Navy in the twenty-first century
Further Reading

About the author: 

Craig L. Symonds is Ernest J. King Professor of Maritime History at the U.S. Naval War College. He is the author of ten previous books, including The Battle of Midway, The Civil War at Sea, Neptune: The Allied Invasion of Europe and the D-Day Landings, and Decision at Sea: Five Naval Battles that Shaped American History, which won the Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt Prize in 2006.

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