In George Washington's Secret Navy, James L. Nelson tells the story of the beginnings of American sea power in the Revolution. The book covers the Siege of Boston (June 1775 to March 1776) when Washington took over the nascent Continental Army and quickly realized that he didn't have the assets to do more that continue the siege. He proceeded to arm several small schooners to interdict the British maritime supply lines. These five ships were the beginning of American maritime operations which eventually included the Continental Navy and privateers in an Atlantic campaign. Like Nelson's Benedict Arnold's Navy, this work is well written, very detailed, and shows the authors expertise.
I'm in the midst of two other works, Patriot Pirates (Robert H. Patton) and If By Sea (George Daughan). Patton's book follows the privateers through the revolution. Daughan's recounts the US Navy from 1775 t0 1815. Together with Nelson's book, this is a full history of Early American sea power.
I'd add the following works for a library on this subject:
Frederick C. Leiner The End of Barbary Terror
Richard Zacks The Pirate Coast
Ian W. Toll Six Frigates
A. B. C. Whipple To the Shores of Tripoli
John R. Elting Amateurs, To Arms!
In the past year I've read several excellent books about pirates and privateers.
My interest was originally sparked in 1995 with David Cordingly's "Under the Black Flag" because this book pictured the privateers/pirates as sea-going guerrillas.
The 3 books mentioned above have one flaw. They don't provide any context for American attitudes toward privateers, smugglers, etc. The American coastal communities were very familiar with privateers and their business. Until the Seven Years War (French and Indian War) few Royal Navy ships came to North America. American's were used to doing for themselves, and making a profit therein.
When the Revolution came, Americans were ready to bring the "fight" to the enemy. If this activity mostly involved taking merchant ships as prizes, so much the better.
The following are worth reading:
Peter Earle Pirate Wars
The Sack of Panama
Stephan Talty Empire of Blue Water
Benerson Little The Sea Rover's Practice
The Buccaneer's Realm
Colin Woodard The Republic of Pirates
Together these works cover piracy from the late 16th to the early 19th Century.