Two centuries before the daring exploits of Navy SEALs and Marine Raiders captured the public imagination, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps were already engaged in similarly perilous missions: raiding pirate camps, attacking enemy ships in the dark of night, and striking enemy facilities and resources on shore. Even John Paul Jones, father of the American navy, saw such irregular operations as critical to naval warfare. With Jones’s own experience as a starting point, in his book Small Boats and Daring Men: Maritime Raiding, Irregular Warfare, and the Early American Navy (University of Oklahoma Press, 2019), Benjamin Armstrong sets out to take irregular naval warfare out of the shadow of the blue-water battles that dominate naval history. This book, the first historical study of its kind, makes a compelling case for raiding and irregular naval warfare as key elements in the story of American sea power.
Benjamin Armstrong is a Commander in the United States Navy, and is Assistant Professor of War Studies and Naval History at the United States Naval Academy. He is the editor of 21st Century Mahan and 21st Century Sims (Both of which have been the subject of an interview on the New Books Network) and the author of numerous articles on naval history, national security, and strategy.
Bob Wintermute is professor of history at Queens College, CUNY.