In the late summer of 1775, General George Washington discovers that his cache of gunpowder has dwindled to a mere nine shots per man. A desperate plan is hatched—to send a ship under the command of Captain Isaac Biddlecomb to Bermuda to capture the British powder known to be there. But the plan is a trap, set by a traitor among the patriots, and one from which even Biddlecomb cannot escape. Washington dispatches his aide-de-camp, Major Edward Fitzgerald, to hunt the traitor down, while Biddlecomb must rely on cunning and seamanship to free his men and the ship, and to capture the gunpowder that is the lifeblood of the fight for liberty.
Divided by an ocean but bound by the cause, as well as by their own private fears, Biddlecomb and Fitzgerald must take on a common enemy—the greatest military power on earth.
This is a powerful saga of the American Revolution—a stirring maritime adventure in the epic, true-to-life tradition of Patrick O’Brian.
James L. Nelson is the award-winning author of more than twenty works of maritime fiction and history. His books cover the gamut from Vikings to piracy in Colonial America to naval action during the American Revolution and the Civil War. His novel Glory in the Name was the winner of the American Library Association/William Young Boyd Award for Best Military Fiction and his nonfiction George Washington’s Secret Navy won the Naval Order’s Samuel Eliot Morison Award for Naval Literature. He has lectured all over the country and has appeared on the Discovery Channel, History Channel, and BookTV. He currently lives in Harpswell, Maine, with his former Golden Hinde shipmate and wife, Lisa.
The Maddest Idea is sprightly in style and accurate in historical sweep and detail. Nelson has no apologies to make by sailing in company with [C. S.] Forester and Patrick O’Brian.
The second volume of Nelson's Revolution at Sea trilogy improves upon the first, By Force of Arms (1995). Captain Isaac Biddlecomb of Rhode Island is still the protagonist, leading the British on a merry chase as he seeks powder for Washington's revolutionary army. Meanwhile, Major Fitzgerald of Virginia hunts for the traitor who caused Biddlecomb to sail into a trap. The climax of this panel of the triptych requires adding a notable episode to the colonies' siege of Boston, but it will keep the reader absorbed, as, indeed, will the whole book. Nelson still paints his characters with broad strokes, but now his pacing is brisk, and the salt air blows through every chapter. He has also well captured the improvised quality of the American war effort in 1775 and the divided loyalties of colonists who had only just begun to think of themselves as Americans. Nelson now sails honorably with the squadron of naval fiction scribes currently led by Patrick O'Brian.
James Nelson is a master of his period and the English language. . . . Authenticity runs throughout the book, carrying total conviction. . . . Nelson writes with the eagerness of a young man sailing his first command.
Nelson’s seagoing experience is evident in his clear, convincing description. . . . The characters are strong and realistic, the plot and action believable and brisk . . . a fine adventure series.
A real page-turner, with plenty of first-class fight scenes for aficionados of sailing warfare.
Splice the main brace and drink a toast to James L. Nelson and By Force of Arms. Sailing in the wake of C. S. Forester, Nelson has done an excellent job of combining historical authenticity with firm characterization and lively action. . . . This is a fine yarn, deftly told.
Jim Nelson’s By Force of Arms strikes a blow toward establishing an American counterpart to Patrick O’Brian’s brilliance. With square-rigger experience in his wake and far horizons before Nelson, we can expect him to achieve one victory after another in the spirit of his British namesake.
A rollicking good sea story.
A lively and highly readable account. Exploring the lives of seamen, merchant captains, and Royal naval officers, By Force of Arms offers a realistic and minutely detailed account of shipboard life during the period.
Set sail with Jim Nelson into a world where he will lead you with the same command presence that he led his shipmates as Third Officer aboard the very real twentieth-century sail training ship HMS Rose. Plant your feet firmly on Nelson’s decks and you will smile as Patrick O’Brian has at Jim Nelson’s grace, wit, and humor.
Rousing plots, historical authenticity, and seafaring as vivid as a slap of salt spray. . . . Delivers plenty of action . . . Nelson’s page-turner brings the Revolution to life on the high seas . . . will please old fans and win new ones.