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Two years before the mast ebook torrents

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Hard work and hardship did not bug these men. The only thing that seems to really upset them is treatment that denies them dignity. I love that! I believe the book really hits its stride in the last quarter. No way around it. Dana is concise and to the point in this chapter, and it works well. It is fascinating. I feel my understanding of the world, and early America, is a little broader. For that, I am glad I read it. View all 10 comments. Nov 20, Rick Skwiot rated it it was amazing.

In a way, the best thing for a writer is misfortune. In that regard, Richard Henry Dana, Jr. A young Harvard man, he signed on as a common seaman aboard the brig Pilgrim, bound for California from Boston, to help improve his health.

Had it been smooth sailing over benign seas under a wise and beneficent captain, with good food and a leisurely stay on California beaches, we likely would never have heard of Dana. But, thanks to the treacherous and icy waters of Cape Horn, a power hungry c In a way, the best thing for a writer is misfortune. But, thanks to the treacherous and icy waters of Cape Horn, a power hungry captain keen on flogging his men on slight pretence, a year of hard labor hauling hides in anarchic California still part of Mexico in , the year Dana sailed , and shipboard living conditions that today's Supreme Court would find cruel and unusual, Dana and his work have remained icons in American literature and history.

To wit, re living conditions: When he and his shipmates mistakenly believe war has broken out with France and they might be captured and spend time in a French prison, they view the prospect as a pleasant break from their hard routines and shipboard incarceration. Part of the lasting success of this book lies in its rich complexity: part memoir of a privileged youth's right of passage into full manhood; part sociological treatise on the people and politics of Mexico; part polemic and muckraking journalism exposing the indignities, injustices and virtual slavery suffered by merchant sailors; part technical manual on sailing; part travel narrative; and part detailed history of commerce on the high seas circa For example: -We learn much about mizenmasts, marlinespikes, and the how-to of sailing a brig more, perhaps, than a landlubber cares to know.

In that way, and more, Dana's tale is a microcosm of the human condition: a seemingly endless and at times pointless journey on a small ark afloat in perilous seas, filled with ceaseless toil yet anointed with sublime natural beauty. Dana's descriptions of the seas, skies, and landscapes often turn poetic. In fact, most all the language of Two Years Before the Mast tends toward the formal and writerly. For despite it being a journal of a common seaman, Dana is an uncommon jack-tar, with a Harvard education, bourgeois manners, and Boston connections that keep him, just barely, from spending another two years in California hauling hides.

Some of his not-so-well-connected mates, from whom he always keeps a distance, at least in his mind and in his journal, were not so lucky. The reader never forgets Dana's Boston background, as he spouts Latin and quotes English poets. Although this book was the first to give us a seaman's, not the captain's, point of view, the language is not that of a seaman, and it will be another 45 years before Huck Finn comes to free us all from formal Boston English.

Though nominally an American, Dana exhibits a tone, demeanor and delicacy more English than Yank. A possible influence: his lawyer father, who argued for an American monarchy and a House of Lords. This delicacy also leads Dana to omit from his narrative most anything that might cast him in a common light--such as his consorting with Indian prostitutes in California.

But Dana's great fortune as a writer was, seemingly, his misfortune as a gentleman. Upon returning to Boston, he graduated first in his class at Harvard, became a celebrity with the publication of Two Years Before the Mast in , married, and became a prosperous Boston lawyer.

However, he never seemed to settle into a life of propriety, as if inoculated against it on his rough and formative two-year voyage. This unresolved inner conflict apparently resulted in a series of nervous breakdowns, which he cured with long sea voyages.

Yet we sense this conflict between his upper-crust snobbery and his genuine affection for the rigorous life and his vigorous shipmates seething beneath the surface throughout his journal. We see a young man made over by his experience--a patrician who, in his heart, becomes a common sailor, but one who never comes to relinquish his previous social status and persona.

For most memoirs to succeed, the reader must be convinced that the author has set off on a sincere sojourn of personal discovery, to find his or her true self. Here, in Two Years Before the Mast, we see that discovery take place before our eyes, even if the author never fully admits it.

View all 3 comments. May 28, Quo rated it really liked it Shelves: interpersonal-dynamics , autobiography-biography , coming-of-age-tale , personal-identity , reviewed , wilderness-adventure. At the risk of putting readers off on reading this classic book, I still feel compelled to give fair warning. You either skip all of this detail or spend ages attempting to master the inner workings of such a ship. Suffice it to say by way of an introduction, having entered Harvard, Mr.

On board such a ship, the work detail is almost constant, especially since to save the company money, it was understaffed. Even a sudden misstep by a seaman that brings him close to death while furling sails in treacherous weather is never acknowledged by his mates, for "a sailor, not being free-agent, is indifferent to the rights of others. Meanwhile, Indians Dana meets ashore speak "speak a brutish, inhuman language" and the Irish who found their way to California in an attempt to better their fortunes are described as of "low collective intelligence in relation to the number of faces".

The new ship is also due to return to Boston a year sooner than the Pilgrim , something that will allow Dana to re-enroll at Harvard much sooner. We stood hour after hour, until our watch was out. A ship is not often injured by lightening, for the electricity is separated by the great number of points she presents. We went below at 4 o'clock leaving things in the same state but it is not easy to sleep when the very next flash may tear the ship in two, or set her on fire or take the masts down.

Dana was the toast of his Harvard campus. Supreme Court. View all 17 comments. Jun 09, Alan rated it it was amazing Shelves: american-lit. I read part of this in Jr HS, then all of it after I graduated from college; my Shakespeare teacher 38 plays in the full year course asked me, as he read it, why so much reference to the "lee scuppers. By the way, sailor's usage for "going wrong," say gambling "blown hard to Lee. As soon as they got on deck after the news, the sailor's clothes were auctioned.

No time for sentiment onboard, as RHD says. Then I recall the great joy of their tea and molasses, or after reefing the topsail, some grog with rum. The weather around Cape Horn was abysmal, with big seas and sleet and snow, but they were on their way to pick up hides dropped down from the high coast of Santa Barbara. Dana observes that if the Californians ever learn to make shoes, their services will no longer be required: shipping hides, taking them around Cape Horn to New England to be made into shoes, which are then shipped around Cape Horn to be sold to the Californians.

A century earlier, John Adams in Galicia observes that the only ones thriving are the clerics of numerous churches, convents etc. The fear of the captain and mates, the appreciation of the cook and his tea, the hard work and danger aloft--these remain with me fifty years after reading Dana. On my only trip to the coast south of L. Two years from the life of Richard Henry Dana, Jr. For one, sea stories were at the peak of their popularity at this point in American literary history.

As ships ventured further and further into what had been unknown territory, they caught the imagination of an adventure-minded public who wondered what marvel might come next, the same way many people of today enjoy seeing movies about the future possibilities of space travel. Moreover, there were hints of further changes in the air, as growing numbers of Anglo-Americans were settling in California, converting to Catholicism as required by Mexican law , and thriving in their new country.

That belief, in practice, meant all or part of California switching over -- one way or another -- from Mexican to U. No one could have known in that California would declare herself an independent republic in ; or that gold would be discovered in California in ; or that California would join the Union as the 31st state in But many books are popular in their own era, only to lose that popularity with the passage of time; and Two Years Before the Mast endures in our time because it is a great story that is very skillfully told.

Dana captures well the dangers of life at sea, as when in Chapter VI he describes the death of George Ballmer, a young English sailor who fell into the sea and was lost. The book is also noteworthy for its descriptions of life in the Mexican province of Alta California. True from to , perhaps; but today, the S.

Chamber of Commerce might beg to differ. Regrettable words — and sadly, not the last time a New Englander has had something bad to say about Californians. Thomas Philbrick of the University of Pittsburgh provides a helpful introduction and thorough notes. But however you read Two Years Before the Mast , read it. Whether you live in California where Dana is honored through memorial plaques, schools and streets that bear his name, and even a statue at Dana Point in Orange County or elsewhere, read it.

It is truly a milestone in American literature. View 2 comments. The long expositions on the technical aspects of navigation under canvas may not be of interest to those without familiarity with maritime life, but his personal narrative of daily life aboard a sailing vessel and the work of the cowhide trade in early California make the book worthwhile. Midshipman Easy. I recommend it to those with an interest in nautical life in the days of sail.

View all 4 comments. Aug 12, Daniel Villines rated it really liked it. Second Reading: April 11, Two Years Before the Mast is somewhat unique in that my enjoyment of this book is mostly related to the fact that this book exists. I say this as a native Californian with roots that reach back into Mexico.

Two Years provides a snapshot of one point along my ancestral past. It's truly fortunate that Dana, a member of the educated professional class of the early s, decided to remedy his eye fatigue by taking one of the lowest working class positions of the time: a Second Reading: April 11, Two Years Before the Mast is somewhat unique in that my enjoyment of this book is mostly related to the fact that this book exists.

It's truly fortunate that Dana, a member of the educated professional class of the early s, decided to remedy his eye fatigue by taking one of the lowest working class positions of the time: a common sailor on board a merchant ship. He was completely out of his element both physically as well as intellectually. The sea-terms used in his new capacity as a sailor must have been just as foreign to him as they are to anyone reading this book today.

And yet, he still found time to record his experiences and produce this book. The history that this book imparts is mesmerizing. It depicts California as a backwater of Mexico and as an unknown frontier of the United States. The ports that it depicts are unbelievably simplistic in comparison to the development that has transpired over the past years. The only export at the time was cattle hides from ranches located in the vast open plains that are now the inland cities of California.

Just 10 years after publication, gold was discovered in California and most of Dana's setting was drastically and irreversibly changed. However, if one looks close enough, Dana's past is still easy to find: San Juan [now known as Dana Point]: San Juan is the only romantic spot on the coast. The country here for several miles is high table-land, running boldly to the shore, and breaking off in a steep cliff, at the foot of which the waters of the Pacific are constantly dashing.

For several miles the water washes the very base of the hill, or breaks upon ledges and fragments of rocks which run out into the sea Having nothing on but shirt, trousers, and hat, the common sea rig of warm weather, I had no stripping to do, and began my descent by taking hold of the rope with both hands, and slipping down, sometimes with hands and feet round the rope, and sometimes breasting off with one hand and foot against the precipice, and holding on to the rope with the other.

In this way I descended until I came to a place which shelved in, and in which the hides were lodged. Keeping hold of the rope with one hand, I scrambled in, and by aid of my feet and the other hand succeeded in dislodging all the hides, and continued on my way. Descriptions of various coastal cities including Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego are provided at a time when cowhides were the only things worthwhile for ships to trade in along the California Coast.

The descriptions of California weather patterns are fascinating in that they describe storms that no longer at least not yet exist. Shelves: dunredalready. This book made me cry multiple times, but not for the direct subject matter. I think there were just a few too many references to the California coast described in enough detail that the effect was to pry out long-lingering ghosts haunting the coastline of my own isle of denial.

Dana's description of first arriving in San Francisco made me shiver, and I still get goosebumps thinking about it. The complete and utter irretrievability of that outpost wilderness fills me with something more than sadness and something less than rage. The book itself is a fascinating look at pre-gold rush California, and Dana treats the California coastline and journey there and back from Boston as a sort of seafaring pioneer narrative.

This is an excellent read for any twentysomething who is still not convinced of what their life and career should look like. Richard Dana Jr. Based on his autobiographical Two Years Before the Mast , a recounting of his , seagoing-adventures aboard the Pilgrim outbound and Alert return , Mr. When you are desperate, you do what you have to, right? We both learned so much. He kept a very detailed journal throughout. Do you know what reefing a sail is?

I do now! His descriptions of icebergs were praised by Herman Melville. Wherever he went, Dana was friendly and eager to help without regard to social class or race; he was also curious to visit all places of worship, respecting various religious traditions, characteristics setting him above men of his or any age. There is also a 24 years later Epilogue where Dana returns to the California and to recount the changes which have occurred in the intervening years.

He concludes with a brief update on what happened to some of his mates, those he was able to locate. Without being the least bit sentimental, the author is a very empathic man, concerned for all and saddened by many things he sees. It was the main reason he wrote the book—to address the injustices borne by the ordinary sailors.

After he was admitted to the bar in , he went on to specialize in maritime law, and defended many common seamen in court. Excellent book. Admirable author. View all 8 comments. Aug 22, W added it Shelves: abandoned , adventure. This is supposedly a classic,a sailor's life at sea in the year A Harvard student enlists as a common sea man to improve his health.

He stays onboard a ship for two years and keeps a diary. But if I was expecting adventure,I was disappointed. I found it rather boring and monotonous with little action. The writing style didn't engage. There is a lot of sailing terminology and technicalities which were of little interest to me. Shelves: memoir. Just as much time is spent on land as at sea, engaged in the hides trade, visiting with Spanish and Indian locals, riding horses, attending wedding fandangoes.

Dana's writing is missing some vital spark. There is also so much sailing and ship-equipment terminology that entire paragraphs would go by where I had to guess what was going on, since the language didn't really This book didn't give me the thrill I was hoping for; it's not exactly The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea.

There is also so much sailing and ship-equipment terminology that entire paragraphs would go by where I had to guess what was going on, since the language didn't really help me. The nice sectional drawings of the hulls of the Pilgrim and Alert were helpful, showing the cabin, steerage, 'tween-decks, and forecastle. A few things struck me. The edition I read contained a photo of Dana's white duck sailor suit.

Martha Stewart would be proud. The sheer amount of time two years and labor involved in getting the hides back to the east coast is astonishing. They're Harvard boys among mostly uneducated sailors. Dana's classmates included James Russell Lowell and Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Dana would eventually graduate at the head of his class.

My edition contained a photo of the Dana residence in Harvard Yard, and it's very impressive - large, white, elegant. Yet Dana befriends a fellow sailor, uneducated but brilliant, who bests him in their arguments about the Corn Laws and other topics. I want a 19th century sailor to clean my house for me every week. I was more interested in the crew's encounters with historical context than in the seafaring itself.

The ship is completely disconnected from news of the outside world; when they do get letters from home, they're already six months old. So when in Dana gets his hands on some newspapers from "the city of Mexico," he is bewildered to see Taney Roger B. Then, in September , they encounter the brig Solon near Bermuda and ask its men who is President. They respond, "Andrew Jackson.

Sep 13, Leftbanker rated it it was amazing Shelves: travel. These books will give you something to think about the next time you are complaining about not having enough clean towels in your hotel room. People make attempts to push the limits of travel and adventure but these seem desperate and phony to me. Who cares who was the first person to climb Mount Everest on a Segway Scooter, or whatever?

Swimming from Cuba to the United States without the aid of a shark cage was the latest yawn to hit the newspapers. Tom Stevens starts out in April of from San Francisco and pedals his penny farthing bike with a 50 inch front wheel eastward across the Sierra Nevada mountains.

A man who had little to learn about traveling light. In his small handlebar bag he carried some socks, a spare shirt, a raincoat that doubled as a tent and bedroll, and a revolver. As I have stated somewhere else, to judge people from the past on things like our modern thoughts on political correctness makes about as much sense as making fun of the clothes they wore.

At least Stevens had a bit of humor to spice up his stereotypes. He describes in great detail the difficult and sometimes perilous work of a sailor. In this passage, the ship is rounding Cape Horn which is infamous for its high seas and terrible storms: The crew stood abaft the windlass and hauled the jib down, while John and I got out upon the weather side of the jib-boom, our feet on the foot-ropes, holding on by the spar, the great jib flying off to leeward and slatting so as almost to throw us off the boom.

For some time we could do nothing but hold on, and the vessel, diving into two huge seas, one after the other, plunged us twice into the water up to our chins. We hardly knew whether we were on or off; when, the boom lifting us up dripping from the water, we were raised high into the air and then plunged below again. John thought the boom would go every moment, and called out to the mate to keep the vessel off, and haul down the staysail; but the fury of the wind and the breaking of the seas against the bows defied every attempt to make ourselves heard, and we were obliged to do the best we could in our situation.

John admitted that it had been a post of danger, which good sailors seldom do when the thing is over. Oct 06, Koen rated it really liked it. Some call this youth literature. If so, at age fifty-eight I must still have a very young heart and mind?

I learned a lot about the gruesome existence of sailors in the midth century. Found the philosophical observations of this young writer very astute. View 1 comment. I rarely enjoy historical fiction. I find that authors often don't do enough to forget prejudices and sensibilities of their present day and carry this baggage into the imaginary past they are trying to recreate. This time machine for language, notions, ideas, stereotypes is difficult to avoid for authors and might be easy to spot for readers.

It is almost impossible to purge, to surgically remove all vestiges of now from a creating mind, something is bound to slip in unconsciously. Why not read I rarely enjoy historical fiction. Why not read an account of an actual eyewitness then?

Something written at the time of the events in question is certainly going to be free of the interferences from the future. Ever since setting foot in the Golden State for the first time I was interested in one point in history of California - the time when it stood at the crossroads of possible futures, the time when it was an almost forgotten province on the outer reaches of newly independent Mexico, the time when Russians used it as a supply zone to access the riches of fur trade in Alaska, the time when no reliable passage overland was known to open it up for pioneer wagons from the East.

In comes Richard Henry Dana Jr, a Harvard student tired of his studies, so intense that they affected his eyesight, looking for adventure. In he is recruited as a common sailor on board of a brig Pilgrim bound for California. His two-year voyage spent on the open seas and on the desolate western coast forms a basis for this book, published to great acclaim in In addition to giving a historical perspective on a far away land and accurately depicting miserable living and working conditions of sailors, the book had a significant influence on many a traveler to the West, sparking in imagination of the masses the comparative ease of making it in the fertile lands of California.

Was Dana instrumental in determining the course of California's history by directing the stream of pioneers to the land of plenty years before gold was discovered there? That we cannot say with certainty, but we can surely be grateful to Dana for his contribution to literature, if not by his own writing, but as a person responsible for pushing Melville to write his own masterpiece.

Another interesting aspect of the book is that it can be read today as a postmodernist recount by an unreliable narrator. It is evident from a close reading how the author hides his own failures and shortcomings, trying to paint himself in a more favorable light than he likely deserves.

He uses his influence in Boston to secure his own early return back home ahead of the rest of the crew, he hides from his duties with a toothache when things get too tough around Cape Horn, he recounts the cruel punishment of sailors by the captain but fails to stand up to the captain when he is clearly the only one in a position to do so.

Dana's personal deficiencies are complemented by prejudices common to many if not all in his days. These are necessary to paint a complete picture of the time and place: repeated references to inferior nations and races pretty much anyone who is not Anglo-Saxon , propagation of stereotypes of the day lazy Native Americans, good natured but stupid Hawaiians, fat loving and also stupid Russians, unenterprising Spaniards, etc , an attitude of reverence to everything English, an unshakable belief in Protestant values as the only acceptable ones.

In summary, it's an entertaining book of dwindling importance as the values it promotes no longer rhyme with the modern understanding of humanity. I would recommend it for everyone interested in that period in history and specifically the history of California. I would suggest to skip the Concluding Chapter as its moralizing and preaching can get tiring very quickly.

For anyone interested in sea stories, the early victorian era, or the history of California, this book is required reading. Dana does a great job conveying the specificity and nuances of his work at sea without ever coming off as self-important or boring. His observations of Mexican California are fascinating, and one gets the sense of Dana's genuine curiosity about the languages and customs of this land so far removed from what he had known in Boston.

He even picks up a little Spanish along wit For anyone interested in sea stories, the early victorian era, or the history of California, this book is required reading. He even picks up a little Spanish along with his marlin spike seamanship. Good for him. As wonderful as the descriptions are, Dana is not afraid to describe the brutality he sees as well, recording in painful detail the whippings and other discipline meted out aboard a vessel run by a power-hungry captain, and the grief and vacant sense of loss after a man is lost overboard in a heavy sea.

All told it's a great yarn, particularly if you already have a strong grasp of nautical vocabulary, and are at least vaguely familiar with the geography and topography of the California coast. Read it! This book is, I suppose, something of a family favorite. It was a favorite of my father's and became one of mine as well. Dana was a student at Harvard in the s who, following an illness which compromised his eyesight and forced an extended leave from study, signed on as a rank-and-file seaman aboard a merchant vessel bound to California via the arduous passage around Cape Horn.

The book is delightful both as a portrait of life at sea in the days of sail and as a sketch of California a This book is, I suppose, something of a family favorite. The book is delightful both as a portrait of life at sea in the days of sail and as a sketch of California as it was before the Gold Rush of I traveled to California for the first time shortly after reading this book, and Dana's account greatly enriched the experience.

One of the high points of that trip was a visit to the mission of Santa Barbara and its beautiful old fountain, from which Dana had watered his own horse during an excursion ashore some years prior. Jan 20, Jessaka rated it it was ok Shelves: adventure-true. I believe this was one of the books that my 8th grade teacher, Mr. Bailey, recommended to me back in the 50s. For some reason I remembered the names of the books he recommended but never read any until I was in my 70s.

I can still remember taking them off the book shelf at the Paso Robles Library and placing them back on the shelf. I remember the exact shelf. You walked into the library, made a right turn into another room, and it was on the first end shelf along with "Kon-Tiki" and "The Raft"-- I believe this was one of the books that my 8th grade teacher, Mr.

You walked into the library, made a right turn into another room, and it was on the first end shelf along with "Kon-Tiki" and "The Raft"--both other recommendations by him. Bailey's one other recommendation was "Silent Spring" by Rachel Carson. I have not read "Silent Spring. Bailey was also my favorite teacher, and I was always going around saying, "Mr. Bailey said But this was a boring read with little action and emotion involved. If you like history and information on ships and life aboard one, you may like it.

I questioned how he could write a diary on ship and not get caught. He expected an eighteen month hiatus, but it extended into two long years. He had no sailing experience, so learned on the job through much hardship, hard work, and hard tack. It is possible to "read around" the descriptions of the specific tasks of raising sails, climbing masts, tightening ropes without understanding it all. What is conveyed, though, is the hard toil, the beauty and capriciousness of the sea, andthe importance of loyalty and trust.

Months are spent laboring on the West coast, which was Mexico at the time. Their business was gathering hides, curing them, and loading them on ship for transport back to Boston. The account is enlivened by deeply formed relationships, disappointments, cruel treatment of the crew contrasted with the fair treatment by a good captain. I love it when I learn so much about things I was not even curious about before! See all reviews. Top reviews from other countries.

In the early part of the 18th century, before the American Civil War, a young university student in New England was obliged to interrupt his studies because of eyestrain. The voyage had to be made round the Cape Horn. California was then part of Mexico, and it was before the gold rush in The ship carried trade goods to exchange principally for the hides of cattle.

They were wild cattle, and were caught by the local Indians, and driven to mission stations managed by various Catholic religious orders. The hides were then dried, and collected aboard the ship. It might take a couple of years to fill the ship. But the demand for leather in New England was great so the trade was profitable.

The trade was short-lived. All the cattle were slaughtered. Then gold was discovered in California and the United States seized California. After the voyage he returned to his studies, and later he re-visited California where little traces of the trade remained. And railways were built across the continent. But the book remains as a great account of life in California early in the 19th century.

Report abuse. This is a very good insight into life at sea in - It is about life on an American merchant ship but it would be very similar to life aboard an English ship. The narrative is easy to read and the many references to naval terms does not detract from the understanding. In fact, I found these naval terms interesting and appropriate to the text and, with a Kindle, easily searched for in the dictionary when my curiosity was arose.

Richard Henry Dana related his time aboard ship in a way which I found captivating; constantly waiting for the next call, "All hands ahoy. The extreme harsh conditions that the sailors endured is unbelievable; not only from the daily battle against the eliments but also from the tyrannical ship's captain. The poor sailors had hardly any time to themselves; often their few free hours on a Sunday afternoon was spent on the constant necessity of repairing their clothing.

I first read this book 40 years ago, as a paper copy without the sequel. I enjoyed it as an account of life in the age of sail. I was recently moved to reread it and enjoyed it even more. This time round I was also interested in the descriptions of the Californian coast at a time just before people arrived en masse. I enjoyed trying to use Google Earth to understand the geographical details even though success was relatively infrequent.

I have seen the sequel, an account of a revisit some 20 years later, described as disappointing. Well, if you are expecting further adventures, then maybe so. For my part I found it fascinating as it underlined just how rapid urbanisation had been and how completely the map had been changed.

Place names from the '30s had disappeared by the '50s, which expains why I had failed to find so many! Furthermore, although I had been aware that it had been a well known even a classic book, I had had no idea just how famous it had been back in the day and how prominent its author had become just from describing two years of his youth.

A good read for anyone with a taste for history. One person found this helpful. I'd not read this book until recently. American classics were part of my school diet - Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn in particular, but not this one.

The author dropped out of college and took ship in a bid to get his health back. Tough way to do it; they went around the Horn to California where the task was dressing and compressing cowhides as the return cargo. It's an adventure all the way to California, where I found the repetition of what they did with hides in need of editing, before his eventual return. Time-wise, he was on the Californian coast in and heard about the fall of the Alamo there.

One fascinating encounter is with a retired sea captain with whom he has a conversation about the advances in sailing ships since the old dude retired some fifteen years earlier. The beaches and creeks he worked hides on were long gone in his lifetime, built over by San Diego and San Francisco, which he mentions visiting in later years.

And the San Francisco he saw is long gone too, what with the earthquake and the fire. He gives a lot of detail of the daily grind on ship where there is always something to do, make, mend, repair, paint, tar, splice or clean. He comes across as one who got stuck into whatever task he was given and eventually manages to get as good at it as the crew; men who seem quite tolerant of this bookish, sickly youth from the start and proud to have known him by the end.

He went on to be a lawyer, an abolitionist and one who stood tall for the rights of others - seamen, slaves or free. His book became an instant hit when published, being one of the very few at the time reference books about California.

Interesting to read. A true account of the lives of sailors in the 's. Interesting to read about the hardships on board and sailing past Cape Horn. Also revisiting old haunts only 24 years later and how much had changed with the completion of the Panama Canal. This book is far more intriguing to me, than reading a history text book. Customers who viewed this item also viewed. Two Years Before the Mast. Richard Henry Dana Jr.

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