March 20, 2009

Author James L. Nelson discusses George Washington’s secret navy

Author James L. Nelson has written a wide range of historical fiction and nonfiction-- from The Only Life that Mattered (a novel based on the true story of two female pirates) to Benedict Arnold’s Navy (a nonfiction exploration of the little-known fleet of American ships cobbled together by Benedict Arnold to fight the British). His recent book George Washington’s Secret Navy takes a look at how the esteemed general took it upon himself to create a secret navy of merchant ships sent out to harass the British. Recently Nelson gave a talk at the Pritzker Military Library in Chicago. There he gave intriguing background and context for Washington’s decision to establish his ragtag Colonial Navy behind the Continental Congress’s back.

Nelson was introduced at the Pritzker Library on March 14, 2009 thus:

Tricky situation here. It's 1775, and you need to prepare for battle against the world's most powerful fighting force. You know quite a bit about combat on land, but you have no naval experience whatsoever – and no navy, either - which is a problem, because your enemy is sitting pretty in Boston Harbor, supplied by merchant ships that you'll need to stop. And whatever you do, Congress can't know about it, because they're not even ready to call this a revolution yet.

What's your move, General Washington? (Hear the rest of the intro and listen to James L. Nelson’s fascinating talk.)

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