Novelist and historian William Hammond has been delighting readers of historical fiction since 2007, when the first volume of the Cutler Family Chronicles was published. A Matter of Honor was a big success and could rival Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin series as one of the best naval historical tales of all time. As the series has moved along, key protagonist Richard Cutler has grown from young midshipman to captain and father of the next generation of Cutler seafarers.

In A Call to Arms, the fourth book of the series, Bill Hammond’s research and storytelling skills bring the events of the first Barbary War (1801-1805) to life with the bombardment of Tripoli (“From the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli,” anyone?) and the burning of the USS Philadelphia. These events grew out of the anger felt by U.S. citizens when the pirates of the Barbary States took and held prisoners for ransom and required exorbitant annual bribe payments “to ensure safe passage.” In the quest to free itself from yet another kind of tyranny, the young republic of the United States responded with naval battles and an incredible desert march concluding with an improbable marine assault by land.

During the same period, the War of 1812 is brewing and an American naval presence is being developed to deal with the arrogant and unlawful impressment of U.S. sailors by British warships on the high seas.

Bill brings perspective to the events you studied in history class by showing how historical events affected the personal business decisions and activities of the people of the times. In doing so, he offers an authentic view into the daily lives of individuals in the early 1800s.

What sets his Cutler Family Chronicles apart is that Bill Hammond offers his view of naval history from the perspective of the United States of America, rather than Great Britain. A Matter of Honor starts the series. It is followed by For Love of Country (2010), The Power and the Glory (2011), and this newest one: A Call to Arms (2012). It’s worthwhile to read all four. Then stay tuned for numbers five and six as the War of 1812 boils over, personally involving the entire Cutler family on land and sea.

A Call to Arms by William C. Hammond (Naval Institue Press, 2012, 256 pages)