Book Review: This People’s Navy: The Making of American Sea Power

This People’s Navy: The Making of American Sea Power


It seems odd to call a book that clocks in around 460 pages as short, but when you consider the subject of the book it seems like barely enough. Hagan, however, does a very good job in making the story of the US Navy compelling and interesting.

From its birth during the American Revolution to the eve of the Gulf War, the mission and methods of the Navy have changed. From coastal defense and commerce raiding to the carrier based projection of power that it is today, Hagan takes you on a history course that weaves its way around a changing mission and a changing world taking into account the politics and technological advancements of the various ages.

Certainly not a swashbuckling adventure, he also does a fine job of capturing the personalities that at times seemed to move the Navy forward on their own shoulders. From John Paul Jones to Teddy Roosevelt, they are represented in the book.

While a good survey of the topic it should also be said that there simply is no room for the kind of details that the hard-core historians would call for. As a single volume it is effective but serves merely to whet the appetite and if nothing else the stage is set for you to delve deeper into any of the epochs of the storied history.

Of course, now it has been over twenty years since it was published and the world and role of the of the Navy have changed yet again, but if the lessons of this book are adhered to, the Navy should have no problem adjusting and moving forward.

If you have any interest in the subject, this book will be well worth the read.