Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A must for Patrick O'Brian fans

Do you know the difference between a stuns'l and a sprits'l?  Can you explain "the weather gage"?  Are you an ardent fan of Patrick O'Brian's nautical adventure series featuring Captain Jack Aubrey and Dr. Stephen Maturin?  Then you would probably enjoy our new biography of the first American naval officer John Barry.
John Barry: an American hero in the age of sail, by Tim McGrath examines the life of someone who expressed many of the qualities that we've come to associate as 'American'.  The son of an Irish farmer, Barry escaped to sea to avoid the barbaric penal laws of 18th century Britain.  In the American colonies, he quickly worked his way up from an ordinary seaman to the skipper of a schooner, and by the time he was 30 he was the captain of the impressive new merchant ship The Black Prince.  A powerfully-built, 6' 4" man with a strong temper and a good knowledge of seamanship, Barry earned a reputation for himself.  While captain of The Black Prince, Barry set the record for the fastest day of sail in the 18th century.
But it was his exploits during the Revolutionary War that cemented his place in history.  His was the first Continental vessel to capture an enemy warship, his 36-gun frigate Alliance defeated the British warships Atalanta and Trepassey simultaneously, and he fought (and won) the last battle of the American Revolution.  When the infant republic founded an official Navy, Barry was selected by George Washington to be the First Captain of the United States Navy.
Beat that, Jack Aubrey.

No comments: