Six Frigates

  • by Ian W. Toll
  • Narrated by Stephen Lang
  • 7 hrs and 10 mins
  • Abridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Before the ink was dry on the U.S. Constitution, the establishment of a permanent military had become the most divisive issue facing the new government. Would a standing army be the thin end of dictatorship? Would a navy protect American commerce against the Mediterranean pirates, or drain the treasury and provoke hostilities with the great powers? The founders, particularly Jefferson, Madison, and Adams, debated these questions fiercely and switched sides more than once. How much of a navy would suffice? Britain alone had hundreds of powerful warships. From the decision to build six heavy frigates, 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. According to Henry Adams, the 1812 encounter between the USS Constitution and HMS Guerriere "raised the United States in one half hour to the rank of a first class power in the world."


What the Critics Say

"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)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


The printed copy of this book was recommended to me by a friend. It was an excellent book to hear, but I fear that important portions may have been omitted in the process. I will pay more attention next time to see that I purchase only UNabridged books. Still a good listen full of historical data.
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- George Carpenter III


Six Frigates tells the story of the early years of the American Navy focused primarily on its first six "Heavy Frigates." We learn of the politics surrounding the debate over whether a navy was truely needed as well as its equiping and manning. Battles are described in exciting detail. We come to understand the important role the little American Navy played in strengthening the nation's role in international politics.

I found the writing clear, never dull. And the narration was clear and engaging, never losing me in a monotone dialog but also never overdiong the exciting parts.

Who would be interested in this book? If you have enjoyed the "Master and Commander" series for its historical and naval aspects, you will find this book a marvelous companion. If you enjoy colonial and american military history as much as I, then you will probably consider this a good addition to your collection. I hope you enjoy it as much as me.

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- Howard Blumstein

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-25-2006
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio