by Edward L. Beach, Captain, U.S.N. (Ret.); Holt, Rinehart & Winston; 592 pages; $24.95.
Beach brings a novelist’s skill, a historian’s authority, and the experience of a lifelong naval career to this splendid narrative history. There are lots of rousing scenes of courage on the quarterdeck here, but the author also has a subtler and more complex story to tell: the impact of new technology and the Navy’s subsequent struggle to reinvent itself, which in its quiet way was every bit as heroic as any broadside duel.