Item description for IRONSIDES! The Ship, the Men and the Wars of the USS Constitution by Charles E. Brodine Jr....
The Story of America's Finest Ship As Told by Three of Her Finest Historians.
Charles E. Brodine, Jr., Michael J. Crawford and Christine F. Hughes On October 21st 1797, the 44-gun frigate Constitution slid down the ramp at Hartt's shipyard and into the chilly waters of Boston Harbor. While the workmen were proud of their efforts, no one--but NO one--thought she would still be serving her country over 200 years later.
Yet the Constitution remains afloat, having survived three wars, service on numerous distant stations, duty as a receiving ship, extended periods of neglect and decay, and occasional brushes with the breaker's yard. She has survived all those tribulations to become the oldest commissioned ship still afloat in the world, and a symbol of the heritage and pride of our country.
Her story is told in a series of 34 short essays by three of the country's leading experts on the USS Constitution's history: Charles E. Brodine, Jr., Michael J. Crawford and Christine F. Hughes of the Naval Historical Center in Washington, DC. Originally published as: Old Ironsides: An Illustrated Guide to USS Constitution, it is brought to a much wider audience in this Fireship Press edition.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.8" Width: 6" Height: 1" Weight: 1 lbs.
Release Date Nov 1, 2007
Publisher Fireship Press
ISBN 1934757144 ISBN13 9781934757147
Availability 123 units. Availability accurate as of Mar 25, 2017 11:25.
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Reviews - What do customers think about IRONSIDES! The Ship, the Men and the Wars of the USS Constitution?
An Excellent Effort Feb 21, 2008
The War of 1812 has been called many things, among them "useless," pointless," and "without significant result." The authors of Ironsides! The Ship, the Men and the Wars of the USS Constitution tend to disagree with those assessments. It is their view (and that of this reviewer) that the War of 1812 helped to define the United States as we now know it.
Ironsides! isn't just about a single ship or a single conflict. It covers the early formative years of the United States, its Army and its Navy from about 1795 to about 1815. It contains information as diverse as wooden warship construction and rigging, recruiting, the Quasi-War with France, officer procurement, fighting on the inland lakes, gunnery drill, fleet dispositions for anti-slavery patrols in the antebellum period, shipboard routine, and the transition of the US Navy from sail to steam.
The basic thesis of Ironsides! is that the United States ventured into building a navy to protect its interests abroad because diplomacy and trade just were not working against revolutionary France or the pirates of North Africa, and the "tribute" (also called squeeze or protection money) they demanded would bankrupt an already thin treasury. The War of 1812, the conflict where Constitution became famous, is treated first as a trade dispute (which it was) and as a struggle over American sovereignty and their freedom to trade with anyone they chose. Absent from Ironsides! are extensive references to the other issues, which included the impressment of sailors and the still-unsettled northwestern border of the United States.
The work is divided into five parts: The Ship, The Men, The Wars, The Rest of the Story, and Appendixes. Each of the first four parts contains a number of individual essays by one of the three authors. well-researched and engagingly written. Essays on wooden warship management, the roles of officers, gunnery and gunnery training, the land war of 1812, politics and Constitution overhauls are loaded with rich nuggets of information. The history of the entire US Navy up to about 1815 can be traced through the pages of Ironsides!
While the main text is excellent it is somewhat short. The first four sections take up only 175 pages, half the book. Each essay is well enough done, but they do leave out critical details (such as the logistical nightmare both sides faced on the Niagara front) and in general are short on analysis. Still, factual errors are rare enough not to be notable except to scholars and true aficionados of the period, and some issues like the motivations of Britain in 1812 in issuing the Orders of Council are simply different interpretations of very complex subjects that historians have quibbles about in symposia.
The appendixes are worth the entire cost of the book. These are based on the primary record, including selected letters between Constitution's captains and the Navy, deck logs, personal journals, the text of laws, naval regulations and more. The bibliography is extensive if not exhaustive, and nearly all the sources can be had, somewhere and for a price. If readers want more detail on Constitution they can look into A Most Fortunate Ship by Tyrone Martin; for more on the formative years of the US Navy Ian Toll's Six Frigates is a good bet. There really isn't a great deal other than the standards out there on the War of 1812 and the Barbary Wars that this reviewer has read and can comment on.
This edition is a reprint of Old Ironsides: An Illustrated Guide to USS Constitution. Fireship's edition the same text and, according to the jacket and inside frontispiece, only the organization and layout has changed. If so they might have done better with closer editing and proofing. Typographical errors and missing words are a frequent annoyance. But in this kind of work, written possibly at different times by scholars working essentially on their own without an editor (presumably) then putting the essays together just before publishing it is practically inevitable. While the stand-alone essay format instead of contiguous flowing chapters is a good way to make this kind of broad-ranging subject work, it can lend itself to technical challenges.
Despite the typos, Ironsides! is a worthwhile effort. If you have only limited time in your schedule or space on your shelf to cover the early years of the US Navy, the War of 1812, the Barbary Wars, USS Constitution or wooden ships at the end of the Age of Fighting Sail, Ironsides! fulfills all those requirements.
John D. Beatty, is a Wisconsin writer and researcher of military history and was a contributor to the Garland Encyclopedia of World War II in Europe. He has worked in US Army Military Intelligence, holds a BA in American Military History from American Military University, and is a Master's candidate in American History at AMU, and American Public University System school.