Morning of Fire: America's Epic First Journey into the Pacific

Morning of Fire: America's Epic First Journey into the Pacific

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by Scott Ridley
     
 

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The Forgotten True Story of America’s Daring First Exploration of the Pacific

Just four years after the Revolutionary War and more than a decade before Lewis and Clark’s expedition, a remarkable—but now forgotten—plan was hatched along the docks of Boston Harbor. Two ships carrying the flag of the newly formed United States would be

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Overview

The Forgotten True Story of America’s Daring First Exploration of the Pacific

Just four years after the Revolutionary War and more than a decade before Lewis and Clark’s expedition, a remarkable—but now forgotten—plan was hatched along the docks of Boston Harbor. Two ships carrying the flag of the newly formed United States would be dispatched in 1787 on a landmark adventure around South America’s Cape Horn and into the largely uncharted waters of the Pacific Ocean, far past the western edge of the continent. The man chosen to lead the expedition was Captain John Kendrick, a master navigator who had made his name as a charismatic privateer during the Revolution. On the harrowing seven-year voyage that followed, Kendrick would establish the first American outpost in the remote Pacific Northwest, sail into a deadly cauldron of intertribal war in the Hawaiian Islands, wage a single-ship campaign to hold off advances of the British and Spanish empires, and narrowly escape capture by samurai in Japan before meeting his own violent and tragic end thousands of miles from home. Brilliantly brought to life by historian Scott Ridley, Morning of Fire is a startling rediscovery of a thrilling lost chapter of American history.

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Editorial Reviews

Cape Cod Times
“Compelling.... An edge-of-your-seat adventure about a piece of history you might not know much about.”
Nathaniel Philbrick
“Scott Ridley brings to life a fascinating and largely forgotten episode in the United States’ early maritime history. A tale of exploration, desperation, and outrageous ambition, Morning of Fire is a terrific and meticulously researched read.”
John Pomfret
“Scott Ridley’s work on John Kendrick and his voyages to the Northwest, Hawaii, and Canton mark an important contribution to the unfolding story of the relationship between America and China...A great story.”
Kirkus Reviews

A tale of maritime adventure, intrigue and high-stakes diplomacy.

Ridley (co-author:Power Struggle:The Hundred-Year War Over Electricity, 1986) looks at the first American voyage to sail the entire coast of the Americas. Embarking from Boston in 1787, two ships—under the command of Capt. John Kendrick, a former privateer said to have smuggled powder and arms for Washington's Army—were sent to "carve an American trade route around Cape Horn to the Far East....barter for furs in the north, then cross the Pacific and stop at the Sandwich Islands on the way to Macao, China. The trip homeward would cross the Indian Ocean and round Africa's Cape of Good Hope." Despite the U.S. victory in the Revolutionary War, the British maintained a stranglehold on commerce in the Atlantic. Along with the French and Spanish governments, they were determined to keep the new republic in a state of economic dependency. To counter the British, Americans hoped to open up China and Japan to U.S. traders, while at the same time establishing claim to the Northwest Territory. During his five-year trip aboard Lady Washington, Kendrick and his crew faced hardship and danger, including storms, scurvy, dissension in the command and the incursions of Spanish, British and French ships, who were also intent on making territorial claims. "A dozen years before the Louisiana Purchase," writes Ridley, "Kendrick held more than a thousand square miles of land on the Pacific"—a feat he accomplished by gaining the cooperation of native chieftains and the Spanish naval command against the British. Though Kendrick reached China and Japan, his success there was limited, and when he anchored in Hawaiian waters on his return trip, he was fatally wounded in 1794 when his ship was fired upon by a British ship, in what was claimed to be an accident.

A solid reconstruction of an important piece of American history, on par with Lewis and Clark's historic journey.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061700194
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
12/06/2011
Pages:
464
Sales rank:
1,163,112
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.20(d)

What People are saying about this

John Pomfret
“Scott Ridley’s work on John Kendrick and his voyages to the Northwest, Hawaii, and Canton mark an important contribution to the unfolding story of the relationship between America and China...A great story.”
Nathaniel Philbrick
“Scott Ridley brings to life a fascinating and largely forgotten episode in the United States’ early maritime history. A tale of exploration, desperation, and outrageous ambition, Morning of Fire is a terrific and meticulously researched read.”

Meet the Author

Descended from a long line of New England sailors and shipbuilders, Scott Ridley has written for the New Republic, The Nation, Newsday, the Denver Post, and other publications. He lives with his family in East Harwich, Massachusetts.

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Morning of Fire: America's Epic First Journey into the Pacific 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Paiella More than 1 year ago
I'm not usually a history reader, but I got this book as a gift, and gave it a shot. It turned out to be a page-turner. Great descriptions of actual events, with the history told in a way that makes it fun to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Never before had I heard of John Kendrick and yet this was such an incredible voyage that did impact United States history for decades. It is also a well-written book that points out the importance of good, effective, and immeadiate communication. The book is not a fast read and is a little difficult on the NOOK app as some of the words were run together. Dispite the hi-tech issues, the content is well worth the read and knowledge.
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