Old Salt Blog has posted an excellent review of Louis Arthur Norton’s book Captains Contentious – The Dysfunctional Sons of the Brine.
Sometimes it is hard to fathom how the United States either gained or maintained her independence given the surplus of knaves and poltroons who gravitated to our army and navy in times of national crisis. George Washington spent the first half of the American Revolution fighting off various intrigues designed to have him removed from office. Our small and largely ineffectual navy was beset by narcissists and self-promoters. We produced enough savants, idiot and otherwise, to win. Barely.
A bit of the review
Norton looks at five ship’s captains who fought for the infant American Navy in the Revolutionary War. When not fighting the British, these captains also fought with each other, with their crews, their peers and with politicians ashore. Their personal quirks and flaws, in turn, hindered their careers and helped shape their victories. Norton examines the exploits of John Manley, Silas Talbot, Dudley Saltonstall, Joshua Barney and John Paul Jones. Each is a fascinating study in the character of these courageous if often flawed naval commanders.
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