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Publisher's Summary

Abraham Lincoln began his presidency admitting that he knew "but little of ships," but he quickly came to preside over the largest national armada to that time, not eclipsed until World War I. Naval historian Craig L. Symonds' Lincoln and His Admirals unveils an aspect of Lincoln's presidency unexamined by historians until now, revealing how he managed the men who ran the naval side of the Civil War, and how the activities of the Union Navy ultimately affected the course of history. 

Beginning with a gripping account of the attempt to re-supply Fort Sumter - a comedy of errors that shows all too clearly the fledgling president's inexperience - Symonds traces Lincoln's steady growth as a wartime commander-in-chief. Absent a Secretary of Defense, he would eventually become de facto commander of joint operations along the coast and on the rivers. That involved dealing with the men who ran the Navy: the loyal but often cranky Navy Secretary Gideon Welles, the quiet and reliable David G. Farragut, the flamboyant and unpredictable Charles Wilkes, the ambitious ordnance expert John Dahlgren, the well-connected Samuel Phillips Lee, and the self-promoting and gregarious David Dixon Porter. 

Lincoln was remarkably patient; he often postponed critical decisions until the momentum of events made the consequences of those decisions evident. But Symonds also shows that Lincoln could act decisively. Disappointed by the lethargy of his senior naval officers on the scene, he stepped in and personally directed an amphibious assault on the Virginia coast, a successful operation that led to the capture of Norfolk. The man who knew "but little of ships" had transformed himself into one of the greatest naval strategists of his age.

©2008 Craig L. Symonds (P)2018 Tantor

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Another masterpiece from the Master

It is obvious that when Dr Symonds writes, he carefully considers every word to make sure his message is clear and understandable, even to a history novice like me.

This is a great book. I hope everyone who is interested in the navy, civil war or Lincoln will read this book.

I encourage Tantor, Recorded Books and Audible to produce all of Dr Symonds books.

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Excellent history

Symonds tells the story of Lincoln and his admirals in compelling and magisterial fashion. This is an excellent addition not just to the history of the Civil War or the Navy’s role but provides great insight into the minds and motivations of the people involved. I highly recommend it.

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Long winded

It seemed to get long in the tooth. Maybe I’m just getting bored with Lincoln biographies.

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Exceptional Book

Craig L. Symonds's take on Lincoln and his Civil War fleet is a most stunning achievement. It further shows how level headed and good Lincoln was at working with those close to him. Put into near impossible situations, Lincoln managed to work his way out of them by keeping hold of his senses. And he had an incredible cabinet. The Navy rarely gets mentioned when discussing the Union forces. It's always the Army that is noted. It is worth noting that the two branches could hardly stand to work together. But Lincoln, being the shrewd negotiator that he was, was able to create a winning strategy. What a delightful read, and well-rounded. Symonds has a gift for weaving lengthy narratives together to create something that is easy to understand.

David de Vries narration is spot on perfect. Can't compliment him enough. What a pleasure!!

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The Navy’s role in the American Civil War

The navy’s major role is a welcomed addition to the military history of the war.