We had only an ad hoc navy during the American Revolution, and it took time and debate to create an official navy in the 1790s, but it was firmly in place for the War of 1812. Looks like this book lays out the issues and isn't just about the battles, and reviewers praise the first book of Toll, a financial analyst before he was a writer. I love the names of the six frigates that formed our early Navy: Constitution, Constellation, Congress, President, United States, and Chesapeake.
One of the Navy websites (linked above) is America's Navy: a Global Force for Good, which brings up something Quentin has encountered. He is reading No Simple Victory, by Norman Davies, about World War II. I'll let Quentin give you his summary:
I've 10 pages left in No Simple Victory, Norman Davies' effort to capture the whole of WW II in Europe Short version: This was essentially a conflict between two horrific totalitarian states. We ended up aiding one of them, which ensured defeat of the Nazis and incidentally established us as a premier economic power. America's sacrifices and strategic efforts were modest, relative to what others did and went through. In hindsight, particularly with the public awareness of the death camps and the repression of information about the gulag, we found a WW II narrative of "a battle against evil" that we still believe. Every other country has a strange and particular narrative of the conflict. Not a ton of laffs, but a very healthy corrective to Stephen Ambrose, etc.
And tonight my book group will be discussing Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford, reminding us that nothing was simple on the homefront, either, even in the United States, distant from so much of that war, but dramatically involved by way of Pearl Harbor. This novel handles gently the rude fact of our concentration camps for Japanese-Americans during WW II. Here is another debate, of course, but the novel shows amazing patience and loyalty in the face of that terrible dislocation of American citizens.