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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
In this stellar biography of Revolutionary War naval hero John Paul Jones, journalist-biographer Evan Thomas skillfully navigates the waters of the eccentric Jones's life, beginning with Jones's humble birth in Scotland as the son of a gardener and continuing to his peak as a captain in the American Navy. Armed with engaging prose and impeccable research, Thomas presents a compelling portrait of a brilliant commander, fearless leader, and dashing figure best known for his courageous exploits at sea in the Revolution.
Thomas displays great skill at conveying the tough beginnings of the young sailor in the Royal Navy. Venturing to sea at the age of 13, Jones -- like all seamen and officers -- faced a lonely and harsh life. But with meritocracy beginning to take hold in America, the ambitious Jones migrated to the British colony. Even here, he struggled to get recognition for his talents and became embittered. Thomas depicts Jones at this stage of his career as a man with great pretensions, a "hustler" who tried to distinguish himself in the officer class as well as in American society. He was also powerfully drawn to women, and Thomas documents Jones's romantic exploits in rich detail -- including his time in pre-Republican France, where he romanced numerous mademoiselles. The revolution finally provided Jones his chance to shine; at a time when most rebel officers shrank from confrontation with the famed British navy, Jones's bravado and boldness led him to become one of the enduring historical figures of early America.
Thomas, who has also authored a superb biography of Robert Kennedy, has written a compelling narrative of one of America's great sea heroes. Glenn Speer