From the Publisher
"Campbell brings to his writing a feel for his period and an understanding of naval seamanship and traditions that are not often seen in maritime fiction. His characters are sharp, genuine and fascinating, his plotting fast-paced and authentic." —James L. Nelson, author, The Only Life That Mattered
"Campbell writes with a vivid immediacy and understated authority... His evocation of life aboard a small man-of-war in the young United States Navy during the Quasi-War with France is superb, his characterization is both acute and realistic, his dialogue witty and shrewd... a delight to read." —Richard Woodman, author, the Nathaniel Drinkwater series
"Campbell is one of those all-too-rare historical novelists who understands that the real world turns less often on acts of wisdom and courage than it does on folly, incompetence and blind mischance. Refreshingly cynical." —Jonathan Lunn, author, the Killigrew series
In 1799, seventeen-year-old Matty Graves, a midshipman in the United States Navy, began service aboard the Rattle-Snake, a schooner under the command of Lieutenant William Trimble, Matty's cousin Billy. During this time, U.S. ships were engaged in unofficial battles with France, a former ally, for control of the Caribbean. When the Rattle-Snake encounters barges of "picaroons," or French pirates, Billy wants to surrender the ship rather than fight. "We cannot fight. . . . If we do, they will kill us all." Lieutenant Peter Wickett, second in command, takes control, successfully fighting the battle. Realizing that Billy, impaired by heavy drinking, is not a fit captain, Matty is forced to choose between family and his ship. "Billy had steered his own course, but by God I wish he hadn't enlisted me for his crew." He aligns himself with Wickett, advancing his career while sealing his cousin's fate. Campbell's novel, the first in a series of Matty Graves novels, is a work of nautical fiction, offering a detailed account of life on a ship during the Navy's infancy. Descriptions of the ships, the living conditions, and the battles make the setting come alive. Historically accurate, this adventure story could be read in an American history class. Perhaps its biggest drawback is that students unfamiliar with nautical terms will have difficulty understanding some of the language. The plot is engaging, and with a little help, most students, particularly boys in junior and senior high school, would enjoy it. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P J S A/YA (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12;Adult-marketed book recommended for Young Adults). 2006, McBooks Press, 272p., Ages 12 to Adult.