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The rousing story of a scrappy band of seamen and a visionary secretary of the navy who defeated the legendary British Royal Navy that had dominated the seas for more than two centuries. Stephen Budiansky examines the astounding performance of America's fledgling navy throughout the War of 1812 and explains how it established America as an international force to be reckoned with. He describes the debate that raged between Federalists and Republicans over whether the country should even have a navy - a debate all but silenced by the sterling performance of the young sailors. Their story is one of riveting and dramatic encounters at sea - bloody affairs of cannon fire and swordplay; of vainglorious captains and young shipmen in search of adventure; of an infant nation seeking a foothold among the great military powers. Perilous Fight is a gripping work of naval history, and an essential account of America's birth as a genuine world power.