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John Paul Jones: Sailor, Hero, Father of the American Navy

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 review with 4 star rating   See All Ratings
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  • Posted May 30, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Heroic, visionary, social climber, patriot, depressive, difficul

    Heroic, visionary, social climber, patriot, depressive, difficult to get along with others, a victor and self destructive are words that can be used to describe the life of John Paul Jones in Evan Thomas now decade old biography. This is a solid, relatively short work that is accesible to the general reader who has interest in naval warfare, the American founding and the late 18th century. Thomas, besides a career as a journalist and writer, is a high amateur sailer, and is able to articulate nautical terminology to laymen, while still technical enough to ensure the accuracy of his presentation of seamanship.




    This book covers the full breadth of Jones' life, from his birth in the southwest of Scotland, being the son of a senior gardener on an aristocratic estate, to his move to Virginia, his adventures as a merchant seamen, his aligning himself with the Continental cause in the War for Independence, and detail about his sailing campaigns against the British mainland during the war. Afterwards, Thomas details Jones' boredom with peacetime life, and his alienation of everyone he came into contact with in his last years, ending up in his sad, lonely demise in Paris.




    The most interesting writing here, as you might expect, deals with the leadership of Jones as a US Navy raider along the British coast in 1778. While having little tactical implications, Jones' raids on the coast and on ships, had useful strategic ends, as it encouraged the British populace, in the aftermath of the Saratoga defeat in New York, to reconsider a long fight against a faraway foe, who was tenacious enough to send modern raiders against the British Isles.




    The examination of why Jones chose to align himself with the Continental cause is looked at in depth in this book, because it is a bit mystifying on paper, but Thomas does go to some length, in his examination of Jones' character, to show that his streak of independence, vainglory, and emotional passion matched with what he thought the American patriot cause should be. Many of the political leaders in America loved his naval leadership at sea, but grew very tired of him, when they actually had to deal with his many proposals, demands and even accusations. This makes even more sense, when in later years, the Russian government grew equally tired of Jones' odd and glory hound like behavior, leading to some conclusions based on several strong pieces of data about the threads that at times led Jones to both spectacular succes and spectacular personal failure.




    As an introductory work to this early leader of the US Navy, the reader should appreciate why he became the symbol of that service, as an indomitable, scrappy, ever fighting leader. The reader should also see why Jones' personal demons led to its sad demise, as those threads were present all his life.

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  • Posted January 27, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A super book on Jones and naval warfare.

    I've always enjoyed reading books about the revolutionary period. I find this era of history to be fascinating and very interesting. So, this book was made to order for me. The book was certainly more instructive in many ways, is the personal history of John Paul Jones than some other books I have read. The author reveals that Jones was a courageous, brilliant, but flawed individual. The author is a gifted biographer and historian. This book was a great book to read, and it is well written and researched. If you want an insight into naval warfare during the revolutionary war then I think this book would be a benefit. Highly recommend.

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    Posted November 27, 2008

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    Posted September 23, 2010

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    Posted December 26, 2008

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    Posted November 17, 2010

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