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Knights of the Sea

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Knights of the Sea
The True Story of the Boxer and the Enterprise and the War of 1812. By David Hanna. (NAL Caliber. An imprint of New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA), New York: 2012. Pgs. 288 Illustrations, Maps.) ISBN: 978-0-451-23562-6.

Reviewed by Harry S. Chou - January 4, 2012

Just in time to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 (also known as the Second War of American Independence) comes the stunning story of the historic battle between the HMS Boxer and the USS Enterprise. Knights of the Sea is the rousing, and factual story of his epic battle that pitted Samuel Blyth (17831813), the young commander of the Boxer who had served during the Napleonic wars, against William Burrows (17851813), the equally young commander of the Enterprise who had seen action fighting the Barbary pirates. The battle between the Boxer and the Enterprise was fought on September 5, 1813, off the coast of Maine. At the time, the Boxer was a relatively new ship, having only been commissioned the previous year. The battle, which was to cost both commanders their lives, resulted in the capture of the Boxer by the heavier gunned and manned Enterprise. The two commanders were laid to rest, side by side, in Portland, Maine.

In Knights of the Sea David Hanna provides a gripping narrative of this battle, he provides a concise overview of the causes and consequences of the War of 1812, which actually lasted until 1815. This background information helps to place the battle into context with the overall war. He also scrutinizes the consequences of the battle between the Boxer and the Enterprise, both in terms of the war itself, and in the realm of maritime warfare and the way in which history has remembered the two commanders. Along the way, Hanna provides brief biographies of the two commanders, technical information about their ships, and how the battle lives on in Maine's history.

Hanna has taught history at the University Neighborhood high School in New York and he is currently head of history at Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) a New York New York City College Prep in New York City. Knights of the Sea is Hanna's first book, and hopefully not his last. This book is academically rigorous, yet the narrative is engaging and thrilling to read. In short, Hanna makes history fun and I highly recommend this book to anyone who thinks that history 'has to be' dull and boring. As well, I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the War of 1812, maritime history and warfare, or who is simply looking for an interesting and factual story to read. For those with a more academic bent, you'll find Hanna's endnotes and the brief bibliography that he provides an excellent starting point from which to explore this battle in greater depth.

Related Reviews:

The War of 1812 in the Age of Napoleon, by Jeremy Black.
A general survey of the War of 1812 that looks at the conflict from an international perspective and which highlights the significance of this conflict in both the national and international arenas.

Nelson's Trafalgar: The Battle that Changed the World, by Roy Adkins.
A vivid account of the Battle of Trafalgar told from the British viewpoint.

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