Never Defeated: The Frigate Constitution

by Nicholas Orloff

Midwest Book Review

Small Press Bookwatch

Against the might of the British Empire, few have stood in defiance. "Never Defeated: The Frigate Constitution" is a novel of the war of 1812, following the naval battles between the fledgling American navy led by the Constitution, against the overwhelming power of the British Navy and the battle at hand. A tale of daring moves, chances at freedom, and history, "Never Defeated" is a strong pick for general historical fiction collections.



A Fine, Homespun Look at History that will Engage Young Adults,

By Grady Harp (Los Angeles, CA United States) - See all my reviews

This review is from: Never Defeated: The Frigate Constitution (Paperback)

Few writers of historic fiction focus on writing for youngsters; perhaps that is one reason our young people have so little knowledge, let alone respect, for the past history of this country. Granted we are in a period of time (for the last 10 - 40 years) when the military activity of the US Forces was not exactly up for praise - Vietnam, Desert Storm, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc - but the individual soldiers called upon to participate in those erroneous assignments deserve a better stance in history. Nicholas Orloff has restored that sense of dignity in his NEVER DEFEATED: THE FRIGATE CONSTITUTION.


The reason why his recreation of historical data is appealing to young minds is not only that he is factual in his reporting, but that he relates history in an around-the-fireside manner that makes his book not only easy to read and retain but also a pleasure to explore. Example: in his epilogue he sums up his book in the following manner - 'And so your great-great-great-grand father John Dickenson married your great-great-great-grand mother Marie in the fall of 1812. They had a long happy life together and died hours apart' A middle aged man was saying to the boy of about seven, finishing his tale. 'If it had not been for the Constitution, neither you nor I would have been born.'

This degree of genuine warmth turns what in truth is a well-told historical reenactment into a story of longevity and values. And that is where Nicolas Orloff shines. Grady Harp, May 12


A rousing tale of naval combat, April 7, 2012

By Bruce Trinque (Amston, CT United States) - See all my reviews

This review is from: Never Defeated: The Frigate Constitution (Paperback)

Nicholas Orloff's novel, "Never Defeated", focuses on the USS Constitution -- Old Ironsides -- during the first months of the War of 1812, when a small, unproven US Navy faced the most formidable naval foe of the era -- the Royal Navy. Vastly outnumbered, the US Navy was widely expected to fail miserably against its powerful enemy, its ships snapped up as soon as they dared venture out of American ports.

But the USS Constitution was fast to prove the doubters wrong. In an astounding display of seamanship, Old Ironsides managed to elude a formidable pursuing squadron and then, to the utter shock of the Royal Navy, took on the frigate Guerriere and quickly pounded her into stunned submission., a feat the Royal Navy, victor time and again over French and Spanish ships, could scarcely comprehend.

Although the Constitution's captain, Isaac Hull, is quite evidently Orloff's primary hero, the author balances the story by depicting it also through the eyes and experiences of a number of ordinary American sailors (including one who has been against his will pressed into service aboard the Guerriere).

I will not pretend that Nicholas Orloff's prose is as elegant and polished as that of such a master as Patrick O'Brian, but the tale is fast-paced and engaging. And accurate. Although some incidents have been invented or embellished for dramatic purposes, to a great extent Orloff closely follows the historical record.

Clearly, the author reveres Old Ironsides and the men who sailed on her, and his novel shows that admiration and enthusiasm on every page.


Old Ironsides', April 28, 2012

By wogan "the book reader" - See all my reviews

This review is from: Never Defeated: The Frigate Constitution (Paperback)

Nicholas Orloff has written one of the better historical novels. It is aimed at teenagers, but all ages could read or listen to it, with perhaps the exception of the very young because of some of the realism of the battle scenes.

Orloff brings out little known facts of life on the sea and especially in the early 1800's when America was trying to hold onto its independence and Britain ruled the seas. There are some black and white illustrations of the weapons and the sails on these ocean going ships, although some illustrations of the real life characters used would have been good. The main story line of the book concerns Isaac Hull's battle with the British ship `Guerriere'. We learn battle tactics and some of the gruesomeness of battle and even ordinary life on these vessels. The story is told in an interesting personalized method, from the captain to the newest crew and even the impressed Americans on the 'Guerriere".
Many of the characters are from history, others are based on who was there; but the research is done well and accurately; although there is no mention of the boys carrying powder to the guns as being called powder monkeys.
The astounding fact that a US ship could defeat the pride of the Royal Navy is well illustrated in the stories after the battle and the reader is also brought up to today in the legacy of the Portsmouth Naval Station and the `Constitution' itself.

My only suggestion for Orloff is that he continues the `Constitution's story with another `forgotten' master of that ship...Mad Jack - John Percival, who saved the shop for posterity and even sailed it around the world.
This is an excellent novel for those who love history, naval ships, and sail and of course `Old Ironsides'.

I was asked to review this book and given a copy for examination. The opinion and details written here, are mine alone and were not dictated or ordered. If I didn't like the book I would say so.


Look at the history with love and appreciation, May 5, 2012

By Joel Wisher - See all my reviews

This review is from: Never Defeated: The Frigate Constitution (Paperback)

This book is educational, inspirational and easy to read. It tells the story of how ordinary people become heroes when faced with exceptional circumstances. I can not help but think that I would be honored to be a part of the frigate Constitution crew and serve under Captain Hull's command. This book inspired me to learn more about very interesting time period in American History. I would recommend this book for anybody, from teenagers to adults.


An Historical Treat, April 30, 2012


Mary Hale - See all my reviews

This review is from: Never Defeated: The Frigate Constitution (Paperback)

Nicholas Orloff created an historical treat. This book should be a recommend read for anyone studying or interested in American History. This epic story of the Frigate Constitiution and its battle waged against the Great British Navy, which during those days was second to none, was full of informative details and is historically correct. The author made it an interesting read and I hope there will be more to come.


The history worth recalling, April 6, 2012

By Al Milensky - See all my reviews

This review is from: NEVER DEFEATED: THE FRIGATE CONSTITUTION (Kindle Edition)

The book immerses reader into the events of the very first victory of the American Navy. It is well researched and diligently written. There are surprisingly little of fictional invention and surprisingly many touches of historical education.

The narrative unfolds as a series of vivid, dramatic, emotionally-charged episodes centered on character of Isaac Hull - the captain of the frigate Constitution. I particularly liked the chapters describing how Constitution had won its seamanship battle of escape from windless weather and five British frigates. The book would have been probably even better if some episodes were more expansive.

The author is obviously in love with the story and its heroes and this feeling is quite contagious.

A novel about the legendary Constitution, April 21, 2012

By jakline rwirangira (Paris, France) - See all my reviews

Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)

This review is from: Never Defeated: The Frigate Constitution (Paperback)

I visited the frigate during my Boston trip and since then wanted to know more about her Captain Isaac Hull and his crew. However, I didn' t manage to find a fiction about those heroic people. And finally, a book.
N. Orloff's novel grabbed me, sweeped me along with the story, and made me fall in love with its characters, real people who served on the Constitution. Besides providing the rich historical details of 1812, the book vividly displays the hardness of the Yankee seamen's life. And above all, it describes the memorable chaise of the Constitution by the British squadron and her battle with the Guerriere.

But most appealing to me was the opportunity to learn more about the American hero, Captain Hull, especially what fate prepared for him after the famous battle. The story of his love touched me to the core of my soul.

Teenagers and adults will be equally interested to read this novel.


While searching for a good book in American history, I came across “The Never Defeated: The Frigate Constitution”. What a great read and a valuable historical lesson! This is a novel about the Second War of Independence and particularly about one very important event in this War, when for the first time in history a Yankee warship fought the British, the biggest sea-power in 1812.<br> What impressed me most was that even though the novel presents tons of the historical facts and events with credibility of a good reference book, still it is very engaging and easy to read. While turning over the pages, you get the feeling of the time, when the young country pulled all resources to fight for independence and people were ready to sacrifice their lives to live free. In most history books you don&#39;t get to know the people involved to the extent that you care about their fate. In this book real people’s stories touch you, making you feel like you are there, among Old Ironsides’ heroes. You couldn't put this novel down until you find out that the captured Yankee sailor’s misery comes to the happy end – he was freed by the Old Ironsides! James Frances’s story shocks you with the realization of how low the value of a human live was in a British prison at that time. You couldn’t stop worrying when the Constitution with a new-drafted and untrained crew was surrounded by the five British warships and only the Yankee liberty spirit and the Captain Hull’s and his officers skills were all what the heroic frigate had. And still they made it! You feel proud for the Yankee engineers, who designed a better ship than the British with all their many centuries of experience. Your heart fills with joy celebrating the Constitution’s great victory and you feel proud of your country. I was deeply impressed with the author’s writing all of the dialogs in the 1812-era language and his knowledge of the sailing ships’ design and nautical terminology. I would recommend this book to anybody interested in the American history and in the history of the American Navy. Especially, this book will be very educational for young people. It should be mandatory reading for any high school student. 


Reviewed by Author Anna del C. Dye. for Readers Favorite. This is a very interesting sea story of a frigate named Constitution. It is a very nice tale full of seamen’s talk and terms. I like the terminology and the way it is used in the story. I would say that this book is a treasure for any sea lover. It will give the reader the taste and smell of the sea breeze. It is vivid and realistic in all the right places. It has been more than thirty years since the Declaration of Independence was signed and still English ships sail the sea about the USA. This isn’t sitting very well with those who fought so hard for their freedom. The frigate Constitution sails under Captain Hull. He is forced to exert his ship and its crew in the highest way to keep his ship from being seized by the Brits. Hull is a seaman by choice and lineage. He will not surrender his ship. His men feel the same way. They have many harrowing encounters with the British throughout the tale.<br>This is a great book for all those who are familiar with sailing lore. It has some use of foul language, and some of the phrases and usage of the language seemed too modern for the era this historical fiction claims to portray, but overall I really enjoyed this engaging nautical story. 





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