For Love of Country is the second novel in William C. Hammond’s nautical fiction series about the Cutler family. The first was A Matter of Honor. Currently, Hammond has six books planned, he has stated in an interview – the third and fourth have already been written. The series is set during, and following the American Revolutionary War period.
For Love of Country starts with Barbary pirates capturing the Cutler family ship Eagle. This is a time when the pirates are strong and where world political intrigues and conflicts make it possible for them to operate widely. Some states pay tribute to them and are left in peace. Some do not pay but are strong enough to protect their own ships. And some nations, like the emerging but still weak America cannot protect their own shipping.
The pirates take ships partly to negotiate ransom – where this is possible and profitable – and partly to enslave crews. In the case of the crew of Eagle, they want a ransom. But to arrange for it to be paid turns out to be very difficult and politically sensitive. The Cutlers manage to have Richard granted official diplomatic status by the U.S. government and raise the funds to pay the ransom. They outfit a small warship, and with it, Richard Cutler hopes to negotiate the return of the Eagle and its crew. The governor of Algiers, unfortunately, has other plans.
So when Richard Cutler is sent to negotiate a ransom for his brother Caleb and the crew of the Eagle, he soon finds that the mission is much more difficult than anticipated. And before the mission is over he will have to fight for his life and that of his crew deep down in the Mediterranean, in a fierce naval battle where he is attacked by pirates that out-man and out-gun him.
The story of Richard Cutler’s journey to Gibraltar, the Barbary States, and France in the revolutionary days of 1789, is interesting. However, I felt the first half of For Love of Country moved a little too slowly. Fortunately, the book improved in the second half, which is very good. Even though the book is not quite as good as A Matter of Honor, I still recommend it to lovers of nautical fiction. William C. Hammond writes well and has a good grasp of history and nautical matters which bring authenticity to his books, and he is clearly an author to follow. If you haven’t started reading him yet, I recommend you do it!
Praise for Willam C. Hammond:
“Drawing on five years of historical research and a lifetime of sailing, Hammond vividly recreates an early chapter in American history.” — Publishers Weekly
“Hammond…provides readers with everything from romance, passion, war, and strife. A powerful maritime tale, A Matter of Honor is sure to entertain .. ” –The Historical Novels Review