Bill Hammond and Richard Cutler, the hero of his historical naval series of novels, have done it again in Bill’s second book, For Love of Country. This book begins tracking the activities of the Cutler family just after the end of the American War for Independence.
Because it is a young country lacking resources and international respect — and a navy — the merchant ships of the United States are harassed by the British and other countries, including the Barbary States of North Africa. The British prevent the Americans from trading freely with Great Britain’s colonies by boarding and impounding American merchant vessels. The Barbary States take ships and sailors as hostages (ever wonder about the origin of the word barbaric?) and demand exorbitant ransoms for their release.
Meanwhile, the revolution in France is underway and the sugar islands of the West Indies are hotly contested by the empires of France and England.
Richard Cutler and members of his family are, quite naturally, involved in this political stew, as they own merchant ships trade in the West Indies, United States, and Europe. To further personalize the situation for the family, Richard’s brother, Caleb, serves as a foretopman on a Cutler merchantman seized by Barbary pirates in the Mediterranean.
Richard gains Congressional approval (and the use of family funds) to operate as an American agent in Algiers to secure the release of Caleb’s ship and crew. Thus the stage is set for Richard Cutler to once again take the reader to many of the political hot spots of the times, from an encounter with Captain Horatio Nelson in Antigua, to a stopover in Gibraltar, to Algiers and on to France as the revolutionary fuse is being lit. There he meets with the Marquis de Lafayette, Thomas Jefferson, and Captain John Paul Jones.
There are a few thrilling chase scenes, some not-so-chaste sex, and excellent dialogue. Bill Hammond is a master historical researcher and author. It’s wonderful to see the Cutler Family Chronicles receiving the acclaim it deserves. There are several more books on his drawing board. We will all be enriched as he brings history to life by making the people of the times heroes and fond friends. If you haven’t read A Matter of Honor, the first book in this series, start there before you move on to For Love of Country. You’ll be glad you did.
For Love of Country B William Hammond (Naval Institute Press), 2010; 256 Pages)