Rebels At Sea: Privateering in the American Revolution

By September 17, 2024 Events

Tuesday, September 17th, 7pm The Society in partnership with The Friends of the Peabody Institute Library of Danvers welcome Eric Jay Dolin, the best-selling selling author of numerous works of American history, maritime history, and the environment, including Black Flags, Blue Waters and Leviathan. His new book, Rebels At Sea: Privateering in the American Revolution reclaims the daring freelance sailors who proved essential to the winning of the Revolutionary War in his latest novel, .

Rebels at Sea final coverThe heroic story of the founding of the U.S. Navy during the Revolution has been told before, yet missing from most maritime histories of America’s first war is the ragtag fleet of private vessels, from 20-foot whaleboats to 40-cannon men-of-war, that truly revealed the new nation’s character―above all, its ambition and entrepreneurial ethos. In Rebels at Sea, award-winning historian Eric Jay Dolin corrects that significant omission, and contends that privateers, though often seen as profiteers at best and pirates at worst, were in fact critical to the Revolution’s outcome. Armed with cannons, swivel guns, muskets, and pikes―as well as government documents granting them the right to seize enemy ships―thousands of privateers tormented the British on the broad Atlantic and in bays and harbors on both sides of the ocean. Abounding with tales of daring maneuvers and deadly encounters, Rebels at Sea presents the American Revolution as we have rarely seen it before.

       “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

Dolin Author pub photoEric Jay Dolin is the author of sixteen books, including Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America, which was chosen as one of the best nonfiction books of 2007 by the Los Angeles Times and the Boston Globe, and also won the 2007 John Lyman Award for U.S. Maritime History. Rebels at Sea: Privateering in the American Revolution, which was awarded the Fraunces Tavern Museum Book Award and the Samuel Eliot Morison Book Award for Naval Literature, given out by the Naval Order of the United States; and was a finalist for the New England Society Book Award and the Boston Authors Club Julia Ward Howe Book Award. Dolin lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts, with his family. For more information, please see

The Danvers Historical Society is proud to participate in Mass Cultural Council’s Card to Culture program.

Rev250 Discover DanversSpeaker Series, typically, every 3rd Wednesday, 7pm.
Including a temporary exhibit of related artifacts from the Society’s collections.
Tapley Memorial Hall 13 Page Street, Danvers MA.
Danvers Historical Society: 978-777-1666 or E-mail to
Donations appreciated.


More Reviews of Rebels At Sea: Privateering in the American Revolution:

       “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

       “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

       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

       “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

       “VERDICT Scholars and general readers will enhance their knowledge of an often-neglected yet essential aspect of Revolutionary War history with Dolin’s cogent, absorbing, thoroughly researched account.”—Margaret Kappanadze, Library Journal, starred review