Wednesday, April 05, 2017

America's First Naval Hero

John Paul Jones: A Sailor's Biography 

John Paul Jones: A Sailor's Biography
"It was a misfortune for Paul Jones that, unlike Nelson, he never had a proper scope for his talents.  His zeal to improve himself as a naval officer, to prepare for a fleet command, makes him stand out from brother officers in the Revolutionary Navy, some of whom may never have been his peers in single-ship combat. . .
Thus, although Jones had it in him to be a great naval strategist, he found opportunity to prove himself only on the tactical level. There he was magnificent."(p 415)

John Paul Jones is a name that is part of American mythology. As an officer in the Continental Navy, he became the new country's greatest naval hero. Yet he often complained, was impatient with supervisors, and was haughty toward his peers and a tyrant among his crews. He prided himself on defending "the violated rights of mankind", yet after the American Revolution he went on a venture battling the Turks in the service of the Russian Tsar. He was in many ways a paradox and his idiosyncrasies made him one of the most fascinating figures in all American history.

Samuel Eliot Morison demonstrates his mastery of American history with this biography of the heroic sailor of the eighteenth century. Morison loved the sea, and this biography is a tribute to that love. The author goes beyond a narrow naval context to establish Jones as a key player in the American Revolution, something not done by previous biographers, and explains what drove him to his achievements. At the same time, Admiral Joseph Callo fully examines Jones's dramatic military achievements—including his improbable victory off Flamborough Head in the Continental ship Bonhomme Richard—but in the context of the times rather than as stand-alone events.

The book also looks at some interesting but lesser-known aspects of Jones's naval career, including his relationships with such civilian leaders as Benjamin Franklin. This is a great biography from one of America's finest historians.

1 comment:

Brian Joseph said...

I think that I would love this boo. Jones seems to have been a very interesting character.

In Stacy Schiff's A Great Improvisation there is a fair amount about him.

That quote is interesting. I wonder if he had the opportunity if he really would have shown such military abilities.