A rare glimpse into the day-to-day shipboard procedures of the 19th-century. The author of Two Years Before the Mast outlines practical aspects of seamanship such as setting sails and tying knots as well as the roles and duties of each crew member. Includes a glossary of sea terms.
This legendary account of a voyage around Cape Horn captures the majesty and misadventure of life at sea in the early nineteenth century
In 1834, nineteen-year-old Richard Henry Dana left Harvard University to enlist as a deckhand on a brig sailing from Boston to the California coast. For the next two years, he recorded the terrifying storms, awe-inspiring beauty, and dreadful hardships of the journey in a diary he would later expand into this riveting memoir of “the life of a common sailor at sea as it really is.”
Dana spares no detail in portraying the wretched conditions he endured and the cruelty of the ship’s captain, but he also paints vivid, unforgettable pictures of natural wonders such as icebergs and schools of migrating whales. His descriptions of the missions and presidios of pre–Gold Rush California captured the imagination of the country when the book was first published in 1840, and they serve as valuable historical documentation to this day.
An instant classic and inspiration for contemporaries such as Herman Melville, Two Years Before the Mast is one of the most remarkable and influential adventure stories in American literature.
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Tracing an awe-inspiring oceanic route from Boston, around Cape Horn, to the California coast, Two Years Before the Mast is both a riveting story of adventure and the most eloquent, insightful account we have of life at sea in the early nineteenth century. Richard Henry Dana is only nineteen when he abandons the patrician world of Boston and Harvard for an arduous voyage among real sailors, amid genuine danger. The result is an astonishing read, replete with vivid descriptions of storms, whales, and the ship's mad captain, terrible hardship and magical beauty, and fascinating historical detail, including an intriguing portrait of California before the gold rush. As D. H. Lawrence proclaimed, "Dana's small book is a very great book."
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