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Publisher's Summary

From thunderous broadsides traded between wooden sailing ships on Lake Erie, to the carrier battles of World War II, to the devastating high-tech action in the Persian Gulf, here is a gripping history of five key battles that defined the evolution of naval warfare - and the course of the American nation.  

Acclaimed military historian Craig Symonds offers spellbinding narratives of crucial engagements, showing how each battle reveals the transformation of technology and weaponry from one war to the next; how these in turn transformed naval combat; and how each event marked a milestone in American history. Symonds records these encounters in detail so vivid that listeners can hear the wind in the rigging and feel the pounding of the guns. Yet he places every battle in a wide perspective, revealing their significance to America's development as it grew from a new Republic on the edge of a threatening frontier to a global superpower.  

Decision at Sea is a powerful and illuminating look at pivotal moments in the history of the Navy and of the United States. It is also a compelling study of the unchanging demands of leadership at sea, where commanders must make rapid decisions in the heat of battle with lives - and the fate of nations - hanging in the balance.

©2005 Craig L. Symonds (P)2020 Tantor

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  • Mark Mears
  • 19-06-20

I want to read it again

Excellent history perspective. The narrative keep the reader captivated, anticipating the next tidbit of information or connection between historical events.

Many things are obvious, but it is the context which Mr. Symonds provides which is so enjoyable. An example is the weeks long time lapse to get information from combat to Washington during the War of 1812; how when telegraph cables were laid commanders in combat theaters felt like errand boys due to “quick” orders from home. Yet by Operation Preying Mantice in the Gulf War, a pilot waited 3 minutes for the secretary of defense to be contacted, speak to the President, who authorized the pilot to fire. 3 minutes.

Mr. Symonds delivers on a unique comparison of five important naval engagements in American history. It was fascinating.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 22-11-20

Interesting book...but not great

I enjoyed the section on the Battle of Lake Erie. It gets far too little attention. Understanding how the aftermath of Manila Bay led America to stumble into holding an empire was also something new to me. But the Midway section left me cold. The book Shattered Sword proved conclusively that the Japanese were not minutes from launching a massive attack on the US carriers when the dive bombers attacked. The Japanese armed and warmed up this aircraft in hangers. Not on the flight deck. All the carriers were flying on and off CAP fighters. the onslaught of attacks ensured there was no chance to get the strike up on deck even if it had been armed and ready to go. It's disappointing that Symonds bought into Fuchida's self serving myth that the Japanese were just five minutes from winning the battle for the sake of drama. it's just not true....

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  • Boone
  • 10-08-20

Everything Craig Symonds writes is great!

General Hagee once told me that “Craig puts a great amount of thought and effort into every sentence he writes.”

I know this is true. It is obvious when you read his work.

I believe that I would have loved to be one of his students. I think he is the kind of history professor that could make you consider changing you major to history.

Authors like Dr. Symonds are why I enjoy history so much.

I would also recommend listening to him speak if you ever get the chance.

This book was great.

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  • Jack D Kendall
  • 22-02-21

One of the best books I've read on naval warfare.

I went through the whole book in 3 days. Fantastic information on Manila Bay and naval engagements in the Persian Gulf that I did not know. The Battles of Lake Erie, Manila Bay and Operation Praying Mantis get too little attention. The first was the first time a British squadron was defeated in their naval history. The second took America to the edge of beginning an empire. The last let the way toward American imperialism. Midway and Hampton Roads, the other two battles discussed, are more well known, but tied into the overall narrative, I found them compelling even though little of the information on those two was new to me. I felt the authors choice of these 5 battles that cleared the way for the political change and the rise of American unilateralism to be well founded. Craig puts together thoughts and ideas that move from one point to another smoothly and make each chapter a fascinating read. This is a book I'll be sharing. It's a must read for anyone with an interest in pivotal sea battles regarding American history.

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  • rbergen
  • 17-12-20

Garbage book

Waste of time. Author can't keep his own opinions out of it. Even takes cheap shots at the war in Iraq.
I'm returning it.

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  • Martin See
  • 18-10-20

Craig Symonds

This is one of the very best books about Naval Warfare. Well written, informative, entertains,and very well narrated. I'm looking for another book by Mr. Almonds right away.

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  • S. H. Moore
  • 31-08-20

Pretty good

Pretty good. A found all of his assertions pretty well grounded. Good listen. Good source of info of the battle of Manila Bay, there is nothing else on that battle on audible. So if you like steel era ships and fleet engagements you’ll enjoy chapter 3.