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Reviews & Awards for Rebels at Sea

Winner of the 2023 Fraunces Tavern Museum Book Award;

Winner of the Samuel Eliot Morison Book Award For Naval Literature, given out by the Naval Order of the United States


Selected by the Massachusetts Center for the Book as a Must-Read Book for 2023.

Finalist for the 2022 Boston Author's Club Julia Ward Howe prize for nonfiction.

Finalist for the New England Society Book Award for Historical Nonfiction/Biography for 2023. 

“Yet another maritime masterpiece by one of the top historians of the oceans!  Rebels at Sea is a brilliant exposition of a little-understood and under-appreciated part of the American Revolution underway.  Like his earlier works, it is full of fresh thinking and sharply observed anecdotes that both inform and delight.  Eric Jay Dolin's books deserve a prominent place on every sailor's bookshelf.”—Admiral James Stavridis, 16th Supreme Allied Commander at NATO and author of The Sailor's Bookshelf: Fifty Books to Know the Sea


“Eric Jay Dolin, the author of several books on early American seafaring, believes that these privateers have received short shrift in other histories of the Revolution. His thoroughly researched, engagingly written Rebels at Sea gives them their due . . . when a ship couldn’t outsail its foes, or when a potential prize resisted, a bloody action could ensue, and Rebels at Sea vividly recounts some of these battles, as vessels with evocative names such as Vengeance, Eagle and Defiance face off against the enemy . . . Dolin convincingly contends that the underappreciated ‘militia of the sea’ played a critical role in the colonies winning their independence, despite Britain’s ‘peculiar and sovereign authority upon the ocean."—Gerard Helferich, Wall Street Journal

"Rebels at Sea is sure to be another successful addition to Dolin’s catalog. The narrative is fast-paced and exciting. . . . The work also has some stunning and colorful pictures, including paintings, maps and portraits. This ranks as one of the best books the Journal of the American Revolution has reviewed."Timothy Symington, Journal of the American Revolution


“Richly detailed, impressively documented, and beautifully written, Rebels at Sea hugely expands our understanding of the American Revolution through a stirring narrative of an essential part that has long been neglected.”—George Daughan, author of Revolution on the Hudson and Lexington and Concord

[Eric is] "One of today’s finest writers about ships and the sea," and Rebels is a "fascinating look at the role played by privateers in winning independence.”―Edwin Grosvenor, editor, American Heritage

"With this insightful telling of the American Revolution at sea and the decisive role of privateers in the very improbable victory over the British Empire, Eric Jay Dolin (a prolific PhD from MIT) caps more than three decades as a best-selling author of maritime history and other subjects. His impressive, and often award-winning, body of work has included histories of hurricanes, piracy, American lighthouses, Sino-American trade, whaling, and the fur trade . . . Dolin is an inspired historian, a careful and creative storyteller. I enthusiastically recommend this well-researched, handsomely illustrated, and engagingly written examination of the essential contribution of American privateers to the Revolutionary War.Captain Andrew C. A. Jampoler, U.S. Navy (Retired), Naval History Magazine

Rebels at Sea is a worthwhile addition to Eric Jay Dolin’s superb scholarly library of maritime works. . . . [it] is a broad and well-researched examination of the role of letter-of-marque vessels during the American Revolution. This new work is a very much welcome addition to Revolutionary War maritime history.”—Louis Arthur Norton, Sea History

“Dolin’s valuable achievement in recognizing and honoring these sailors’ oft-ignored contributions to American independence more fully fleshes out American naval history.”Mark Knoblauch, Booklist, starred review

"The author makes this solid work of scholarship the sort of book that starts a young person’s love of reading and interest in history. Dolin never loses the reader in his clear and concise prose."Robert S. Davis, New York Journal of Books

"This is an exciting book that puts a new light on a fascinating period of American maritime history."Sea Classics


"There may be no better read for an American Revolution history lover this summer than Eric Jay Dolin‘s latest Rebel At Sea, a look at the forgotten role of the privateer during America’s battle for independence. . . . There are men whose sacrifices should also be remembered during Independence Day celebrations this year. And Dolin’s Rebels at Sea presents a great introduction to this hidden corner of American history."Greg Young, The Bowery Boys Podcast Bookshelf


“With Rebels at Sea, Eric Jay Dolin combines his meticulous research with his consummate skills as a story teller. The American privateers who sailed and fought in our Revolution have been unjustly forgotten by our history books. Their victories at sea heartened citizens, proved their worth to the Continental Congress, and drove George III and Lord North nuts. This is a terrific read!”—Tim McGrath, author of Give Me a Fast Ship: The Continental Navy and America's Revolution at Sea

"Eric Dolin majestically rectifies the oversight that the official canon of naval history in Britain and the United States virtually ignores privateers. . . . Eric Dolin’s Rebels At Sea is original, meticulously researched and connects one of the USA’s great missing links in understanding how the land of the free earned its liberty. Rebels At Sea is rich in stories, historical explanation and tales of derring-do – a new and refreshing take on how the West was won."—Sean Kingsley, Wreckwatch Magazine

“Most naval history focuses on battles between national fleets, and so the swaggering history of the Revolution’s American privateers may have sailed past some readers. Eric Jay Dolin’s comprehensive effort helps correct that oversight. . . . [Rebels at Sea is] fascinating."—Tim Queeney, American History


"Eric Jay Dolin is an excellent writer, straightforward with a style that keeps the book moving while thoroughly engaging the reader.  Rebels at Sea is destined to become the starting place to understand the privateer war during the American Revolution."—Eric Sterner, Emerging Revolutionary War Era Blog


"A compelling tale of patriots whose bravery was integral to America’s victory in the War of Independence, Rebels at Sea is highly recommended."Chris Szepessy, WindCheck Magazine, Sailing the Northeast

“The war at sea during the Revolutionary War is less known than the famous land battles fought at places such as Lexington and Trenton. But privateers played a crucial role by elevating the cost of war to the Crown and providing vital supplies and gunpowder to the nascent United States among other actions. Eric Jay Dolin brings the war at sea to life with vibrant prose and solid research. After reading Rebels at Sea, readers will come away with a new perspective on how America gained independence.“—Patrick K. O’Donnell, author of The Indispensables: The Diverse Soldier-Mariners Who Shaped the Country, Formed the Navy, and Rowed Washington Across the Delaware


"Rebel’s at Sea is captivating reading for those drawn to American and British history or armchair sailors seeking high seas adventure. It is also an important contribution to American Revolution literature."—George Jepson, Quarterdeck Magazine

“In this exciting narrative, Dolin, a 2020 Kirkus Prize finalist for A Furious Sky, demonstrates how privateering was a key element in America’s ability to secure independence. . . . A thrilling, unique contribution to the literature on the American Revolution.”Kirkus Reviews

“While the infant American navy fought gallantly, privateers presented the Royal Navy with its greatest challenge. Eric Jay Dolin's Rebels at Sea is an excellent book about those overlooked patriots who brought the war at sea home to the British. It is welcome addition to the history of the American Revolution, and deserves the highest praise.”—William Fowler, Jr., Jack tars and commodores: The American Navy, 1783-1815


 “An often overlooked factor in America’s victory in the War of Independence was the role of privateering – sailors who captured British ships or merchants who at considerable risk acquired essential goods for the army and home front.  Eric Jay Dolin’s wonderful Rebels at Sea demonstrates that privateering was more than a sideshow. It caused Great Britain enormous problems that contributed to its failure to crush the American rebellion. This book is must reading for all who wish to learn more about the Revolutionary War.”—John Ferling, author of Winning Independence: The Decisive Years of the Revolutionary War, 1778-1781

"American privateers were 'at the very center' of the patriotic cause during the Revolutionary War, according to this spirited account from historian Dolin . . . the book’s greatest strength are the up-close portraits of the sailors themselves . . . this is a well-researched and thoroughly entertaining tribute to men who 'stepped forward and risked their lives to help make [the United States] a reality.'"Publishers Weekly


"Eric Jay Dolin builds on his already prodigious reputation for meticulous and thorough research and a readable, page-turning prose style with his latest work on privateers of the American Revolution. Turning to a subject that has garnered little attention despite its importance to history and its inherently swashbuckling nature, Dolin gives this fascinating aspect of the Age of Fighting Sail the focus it deserves. This book is an important contribution to the naval history of the American Revolution and an entertaining and enjoyable read as well.—James L. Nelson, author of Benedict Arnold's Navy and George Washington's Secret Navy 


“All in all it was a very good and, for me, informative read. I commend you heartily on the project. It beats the hell out of most of what is out there these days.”—Donald Grady Shomette, author or more than twenty books on American history, including Privateers of the Revolution: War on the New Jersey Coast, 1775-1783 


"It is long overdue that readers have available to them a modern study of American privateers in the American Revolutionary War.  Thanks to Eric Jay Dolin, readers finally have one. Dolin makes a compelling case for American privateers making a significant contribution to the fledgling United States winning the Revolutionary War.  Deeply researched and elegantly written, his book also includes many memorable and varied stories of American privateers in action."—Christian McBurney, author of Dark Voyage:  An American Privateer’s War on Britain’s African Slave Trade

"Dolin livens the story with narratives of ship encounters and individuals caught up in the war.  Much like the privateering war itself, they are too episodic to hang together as an integrated narrative.  But, he uses them effectively to underscore his broader points while helping the reader relate to the war at sea.  Dozens of illustrations enrich the read.  . . . Eric Jay Dolin is an excellent writer, straightforward with a style that keeps the book moving while thoroughly engaging the reader.  Rebels at Sea is destined to become the starting place to understand the privateer war during the American Revolution."—Eric Sterner, Emerging Revolutionary War Era Blog 


"I spend a lot of time trying to explain privateering to visitors and students in a succinct, easily understandable way, while making it clear that the experienced varied by region, race, year, etc. Your book does a wonderful job of offering both big-picture information and the personal, and often intimate details of individual experiences. You address the two most common questions perfectly – I have never had anyone come on a tour of the Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm [in which a famous privateer lived] who did not, at some point equate privateers with piracy, and there is always a question about whether financial gain or patriotism was the primary motivation. The answer in both cases is complex and can easily become bogged down in scholarly debate, but you avoid this pitfall. I think there is enough rigor here to satisfy the most demanding historian, but it is all beautifully accessible as well. Your readers will never forget the smell of a prison ship or the blood pooling around the feet of a mortally wounded captain. They will hang their water buckets high in the rigging and hope this teaches new hands to climb! I loved it, an excellent balance between macro and micro history."—Bethany Groff-Dorau, Executive Director of the Museum of Old Newbury and author of A Newburyport Marine in World War I: The Life and Legacy of Eben Bradbury

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