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Sintesi dell'editore

Two Years Before the Mast is a book by the American author Richard Henry Dana, Jr., written after a two-year sea voyage starting in 1834 and published in 1840.

While at Harvard College, Dana had an attack of the measles that affected his vision. Thinking it might help his sight, Dana, rather than going on a Grand Tour as most of his fellow classmates traditionally did (and unable to afford it anyway), and being something of a nonconformist, he left Harvard to enlist as a common sailor on a voyage around Cape Horn on the brig Pilgrim. He returned to Massachusetts two years later aboard the Alert (which left California sooner than the Pilgrim). He kept a diary throughout the voyage, and, after returning, he wrote a book based on his experiences.

Recognized as an American classic, Two Years Before the Mast was published the same year that Dana was admitted to the bar.

Public Domain (P)2010 Tantor

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  • Generale
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Matt
  • 26/05/2011

Great Historical Account

The one piece of advice I would offer if you intend on listening to this book is to download a sail plan of a early 19th century brig. Dana's descriptions are so frequent and detailed that if you don't familiarize yourself with it, most of it will be meaningless. I gave it three stars for that reason alone. Other than that there are some fascinating parts and stories contained in this book. Many great descriptions of early California. All in all a good listen.

4 persone l'hanno trovata utile

  • Generale
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lettura
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Storia
    5 out of 5 stars
  • W. F. Rucker
  • 03/08/2013

A Memorable Adventure From the Past

This is a true life adventure of two years of the life of an American sailor in the 1830's. This is an American classic that that I feared might be dull and monotonous. Instead it was a lively tale of travel and danger.
The author was a student in Boston who developed problems with his eyes and could not pursue his studies. He decided to sign on as a jack tar sailor on a ship bound for California round the horn. Living a sailor's life for two years.
The life of a sailor was hard labor day and night. The moments of adventure and drama were interspersed between long periods of the boring, confined life of a sailor aboard ship. Many of his diary entries read "The same." The author's ship, The Pilgrim, was engaged in the hide trade. A long trip around Cape Horn brought them to California. Once there they traveled up and down the coast from San Diego to San Francisco swapping trade goods for cattle hides. The reader is given a trip to a foreign country as he reads about the author's travels. In Mexican California status was based on the color of your skin. At the bottom were the Indians who provided the labor for the white skinned descendants of the Spanish conquerors. The Castilian dialect was cultivated as another sign of status. The coastline and the desert were the landscape of the author's travels. The author rode everywhere he went in California. They had very many horses and they would ride them at a gallop and when they were tired stop and pick up fresh horses. The rush of the wind atop a running horse with the smell of the sea in the air was one of many invigorating images contained in the book.
The author quickly learned the Spanish language and had many stories to tell of the people of California. As a sailor he mingled with the laboring class and became particularly attached to the kanakas. These were people from the Sandwich Islands/Hawaii. The kanakans were susceptible to illnesses common in the white population. The author helped to save the life of a kanakan friend by making sure he got medicines from the ship that another kanakan would not have been given.
Between the boring times were some vivid memories. The power of a Captain of the ship was made clear to the author in a brutal scene. One of the common sailors shot off his mouth to the Captain just at the wrong time. The Captain shouts his orders and the sailor is seized up. His shirt is ripped off and he is tied with his arms out face down on the bulkhead. The Captain takes a piece of thick rope and whips the sailor screaming at him that he will be his slave. Finally the sailor screams for the Captain to stop. The author thinks to himself that this is the way it is on ship. If you oppose the Captain, first it is mutiny then it is piracy and you swing for either one. The author later became involved in the anti-slavery movement.
Another moment was one of great beauty. When they went back around the horn it was winter in Antarctica and they got into the ice. In the pack was an iceberg of enormous size. It towered over them and the shape and color were a miracle of nature. The center of the iceberg was a deep indigo and as it got to the edges it was blue and then white. It moved slowly and great cracking sounds broke the quiet that hung in the air. A once in a lifetime experience for everyone there.
I could go on. I enjoyed the book very much. The author kept a diary of his trip and used that to write the book. There are dates scattered throughout the book. The narration was understated and moved with a good pace. The author's writing has some interesting differences that reminded me of the difference in time. I recommend it as an interesting journey to another time and place.

3 persone l'hanno trovata utile

  • Generale
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lettura
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Storia
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 11/12/2019

Sailors from different times....

A sailor myself for more than three decades (1964 to 1995) I enjoyed hearing Dana's stories from the days of "Iron men in wooden ships."

1 persona l'ha trovata utile

  • Generale
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lettura
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Storia
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Taylor V. Smith
  • 08/05/2022

Fascinating

One of the most fascinating books I've read. Of special interest to me, as a sailor, but a page-turner for any reader.

  • Generale
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Storia
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Humagatchie
  • 10/04/2022

Great true adventure

fantastic book about the reality of working on a merchant ship in the 1800's .

  • Generale
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lettura
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Storia
    5 out of 5 stars
  • MPR Colorado
  • 06/04/2022

Voice not appealing to me...

A compelling, fascinating true account, made possible by a Man in whom had the foresight to record this epic story...

  • Generale
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lettura
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Storia
    5 out of 5 stars
  • D. Bollwinkel
  • 06/03/2022

A nautical and historical classic

I really enjoyed this story of the lives of sailors in the 1800s. It's easy to think our work is hard until one hears and imagines the incredibly difficult lives of sailors in this time period. I love his description of the beauty he experienced as a sailor and of California in the early days of the forming of the US.

  • Generale
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lettura
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Storia
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Paul
  • 17/02/2022

An amazing true account!

An amazing true account and one of few descriptions of pre-goldrush California. I loved this book. Dana is compassionate to all, regardless of race or social-standing. He leaves a life of comfort to go on a voyage as a common sailor to the then wilderness of California. A riveting tale of adventure on the sea! A great lesson in history. I struggled with the nautical terms, but I learned a lot, including the correct pronunciation of "forecastle." I highly recommend this book

  • Generale
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lettura
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Storia
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Steve
  • 11/01/2022

been wanting to read this for years was worth it!

I have been wanting to read this for years and never had the time. Thanks Audible it made my workouts, commute and my life so much more interesting.

  • Generale
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lettura
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Storia
    5 out of 5 stars
  • robert
  • 20/12/2021

Timeless

This is a well written account of this sailors trip to California from Boston. It's a brilliant book. A glimpse of California in the 1935 era. Narrator is great. 5 stars