John Barry: An American Hero In The Age Of Sail

Overview

Finalist for the Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison Award for Excellence in Naval Literature

“Ashore as well as at sea, Tim McGrath paints an informative, engaging and highly entertaining portrait of this worthy but neglected hero of American independence. The author shows us a man who was a magnificent embodiment of common sense—and uncommon courage and dedication. That such a work is long overdue makes its achievement all the more pleasurable.”—Wall Street Journal 

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John Barry: An American Hero in the Age of Sail

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Overview

Finalist for the Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison Award for Excellence in Naval Literature

“Ashore as well as at sea, Tim McGrath paints an informative, engaging and highly entertaining portrait of this worthy but neglected hero of American independence. The author shows us a man who was a magnificent embodiment of common sense—and uncommon courage and dedication. That such a work is long overdue makes its achievement all the more pleasurable.”—Wall Street Journal 

“Combining sophisticated use of sources with a pleasing writing style, McGrath masterfully rescues a father of the U.S. Navy from unmerited eclipse.”—Publishers Weekly

“A nearly indispensable addition to U.S. Navy collections.”—Booklist

“McGrath employs exemplary narrative style in this work. . . . In John Barry, the author adroitly juxtaposes maritime history, narratives of naval combat, and early U.S. social history.”—New England Quarterly

“McGrath is a compelling and lucid writer. He brings Barry to life, makes battles understandable, and provides the clearest description of Barry's 1778 capture of the British transport ships Mermaid and Kitty that this reviewer has seen.”—Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography

“A great read and an absorbing account of a drama-filled life.”—Naval History

“Well researched, well written, and a pleasure to read, this book restores John Barry to the important place he once held as one of our nation’s great heroes. It is a tale of high adventure and personal courage and you will not want to put it down.” JAMES L. NELSON, author of George Washington’s Secret Navy

“Readers of this vivid biography will imagine they smell the ocean’s salt air and the sulfurous fumes of gunpowder as they navigate these action-packed pages. Fans of Horatio Hornblower and Lucky Jack Aubrey will rejoice in discovering their real-life American counterpart.”GREGORY J. URWIN, author of Facing Fearful Odds: The Siege of Wake Island

The man regarded as “the Father of the American Navy” returns to the quarterdeck in John Barry: An American Hero in the Age of Sail, the first comprehensive biography of this legendary officer in generations. Son of a hardscrabble Irish farmer from County Wexford, Barry was sent to sea as a child, arriving in Philadelphia during the restless decade before the American Revolution. Brave and ambitious, he ascended the ratlines to become a successful merchant captain at a young age, commanding the most prestigious ship in the colonies and recording the fastest known day of sail in the century.

Volunteering to fight for the Continental cause, Barry saw his star rise during the War for Independence. As captain of the Lexington, Raleigh, and Alliance, Barry faced down broadsides, mutinies, and even a fleet of icebergs. He captured the first enemy warship taken by a Continental vessel and fought the last battle of the American Revolution. His hard-won victory over two British warships simultaneously garnered him international notoriety, while his skill as a seafarer and cool temper established Barry as a worthy foe among British captains. Without a ship during the winter of 1776-77, the ever resourceful Barry lead a battery of naval artillery at the battle of Princeton. With peace came a historic voyage to China, where Barry helped open trade with that reclusive empire. In 1794, President Washington named Barry as the first commissioned officer in the new United States Navy. Given the title of commodore, Barry ended his career during America’s naval war with France, teaching the ropes to a new generation of officers, most notably Stephen Decatur.

Drawn from primary source documents from around the world, John Barry: An American Hero in the Age of Sail by Tim McGrath brings the story of this self-made American back to life in a major new biography.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This book establishes McGrath, an executive who has written for Naval History magazine, as an accomplished naval historian. Combining sophisticated use of sources with a pleasing writing style, he masterfully rescues a father of the U.S. Navy from unmerited eclipse. McGrath’s own extensive recreational sailing experience adds an extra dimension by vividly conveying the physical facts of life at sea that structured the navy’s military and economic aspects. An Irish Catholic, John Barry (1745-1803) went to sea as a boy, emigrated to Philadelphia, and became a successful merchant captain. In the fledgling Continental Navy of the American Revolution, he began by commanding a converted merchantman. He finished by fighting the war’s last naval battle as a frigate captain. In between, he established a reputation as a skillful seaman, fighting captain, and successful taker of prizes. Returning to the merchant service, Barry made one of America’s first trading voyages to China. In 1794 he was named the first commissioned officer in the new U.S. Navy and continued to offer valuable service through the quasi-war with France in 1798-1799, confirming his contemporary reputation as “first of patriots, and best of men.” 51 illus. (June)
Publishers Weekly
This book establishes McGrath, an executive who has written for Naval History magazine, as an accomplished naval historian. Combining sophisticated use of sources with a pleasing writing style, he masterfully rescues a father of the U.S. Navy from unmerited eclipse. McGrath’s own extensive recreational sailing experience adds an extra dimension by vividly conveying the physical facts of life at sea that structured the navy’s military and economic aspects. An Irish Catholic, John Barry (1745–1803) went to sea as a boy, emigrated to Philadelphia, and became a successful merchant captain. In the fledgling Continental Navy of the American Revolution, he began by commanding a converted merchantman. He finished by fighting the war’s last naval battle as a frigate captain. In between, he established a reputation as a skillful seaman, fighting captain, and successful taker of prizes. Returning to the merchant service, Barry made one of America’s first trading voyages to China. In 1794 he was named the first commissioned officer in the new U.S. Navy and continued to offer valuable service through the quasi-war with France in 1798–1799, confirming his contemporary reputation as “first of patriots, and best of men.” 51 illus. (June)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594161049
  • Publisher: Westholme Publishing
  • Publication date: 5/18/2010
  • Edition description: 1st Edition
  • Pages: 704
  • Sales rank: 893,075
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 2.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Tim McGrath is an executive who lives outside of Philadelphia. An avid sailor, he has been published in Naval History magazine

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