2012 marks the bicentennial of the War of 1812. History teacher Hanna helps us to understand the conflict by focusing on the naval war. He has chosen one particular sea battle between the HBMS Boxer and the USS Enterprise that occurred on September 5, 1813. The title Knights of the Sea refers to the commanders of the respective ships – Samuel Blythe and William Burrows. The book serves as a dual biography and shows how they each went to sea as boys and worked their ways through the naval ranks. Their lives converged on the fateful day off the coast of Maine as they both lost their lives in the only naval battle witnessed by people on land. Hanna also provides an overview of the War and quotes liberally from Theodore Roosevelt’s account of it. However, the real focus is on the conflict between the U.S. and Royal navies and how the officers maintained an code of honor among themselves, even as they were broadsiding and boarding each other’s ships. The book is a fascinating account of America’s first effort to assert itself militarily against England.
If you enjoy this book, you will want to read the classic sea novels by Patrick O’Brian