THE FIRST SALUTE
by Barbara W. Tuchman
Knoph; 347 pages; $22.95
From the British point of view, the American revolutionaries were ingrates. Had not the mother country endowed her colonists with a splendid heritage? Did she not, at considerable cost, literally save their scalps from the French and their Iroquois allies during the Seven Years' War? The litany of disappointment went on, driven by royal self-righteousness and a scarcely concealed craving to punish the upstarts.
So George III and his ministers were even more distressed when, on Nov. 16, 1776, the Andrew Doria, a lightly armed brigantine flying the flag of...