Against Cold SteelAgainst Cold Steel (1974) is a rather disappointing sequel to Hellfire in Tripoli. The book culminates with Commodore Preble's gunboat action against the Bashaw of Tripoli, in which Decatur's heroism plays a critical role. There is, however, a looong exposition before we finally go into action. The first hundred pages are taken up with Decatur's intriguing in Naples to get a small fleet of gunboats from the King of the Two Sicilies. Powerful forces are arrayed against him, but he finally succeeds.

Another fifty pages are given up to a mission to gather intelligence in Jerba. Again, Decatur is on his own in a hostile city, but he finally succeeds. The last thirty pages carry the fleet from Syracuse and into action. Hoyt is a fine storyteller, so the reader is never bored -- it's kind of like reading a Robert Ludlam thriller set in 1803. Just not very naval.

It doesn't really detract from the story, but anachronisms make me grumpy. Hoyt has Decatur walk down the Via Nazionale in Naples. Most Italian cities have a Via Nazionale, streets that were renamed after the Italian unification, which came to Naples in 1861. It is a name that reflects an idea that was essentially unknown in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies in 1803. Did Hoyt not know this, or did he just not take the trouble to find out the street's name in 1803?

Description of: Against Cold Steel

Author: Edwin P. Hoyt



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