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John Paul Jones: Sailor, Hero, Father of the American Navy
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John Paul Jones: Sailor, Hero, Father of the American Navy

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  459 ratings  ·  52 reviews
John Paul Jones, at sea and in the heat of the battle, was the great American hero of the Age of Sail. He was to history what Patrick O'Brian's Jack Aubrey and C. S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower are to fiction. Ruthless, indomitable, clever; he vowed to sail, as he put it, "in harm's way." Evan Thomas's minute-by-minute re-creation of the bloodbath between Jones's Bonhomm ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published May 10th 2004 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2003)
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Community Reviews

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Jason Koivu
Poor ol' John. If only the US Navy at the time of Jones' life was the size of the man's ambition and ego, it would've been unstoppable!

If he'd lived just a few years longer, he would've been the ideal sea captain to head up Thomas Jefferson's hesitant-yet-ambitious expansion of the U.S. navy. But we do what we can with the time we're allotted and Jones did just about everything he could.

JOHN PAUL JONES: Journeyman Seaman
description

What an easy biography to write! The man's life reads like a legend. C.S.
...more
Marty
Simple mathematics explains why I chose to read this biography.

me=naval and American history lover + sailing lover.
John Paul Jones biography=naval sailor + fought during the Revolutionary War

Therefore, me=John Paul Jones biography reader.

Okay, maybe my math skills aren't airtight ... it's been awhile ... but pretty much this book and I were inevitable. I had only heard scant details about John Paul Jones, and I knew I wanted to know more. Often I wondered why I hadn't heard more than I had. Now,
...more
David Miller
If you like naval history this book is great, also tells the story of the revolutionary war from a different perspective and shines a light on the life of a very interesting man, who, for all his flaws and foibles was always amazing when it mattered most, battling the enemy or the high seas.
Jimmy
This is an interesting biography of a naval war hero during the American War of Independence. Being in the military I have heard his name thrown around but know next to nothing about him. I imagine I’m not the only one. So I thought I give this book a read and since I didn’t know what to expect from his rather interesting life there were moments in the book I was left in suspense since I didn’t know what the outcome would be! One doesn’t get such thrills often with historical biography. John Pau ...more
Matthew
Must be the ultimate name, as 2 people have it and are awesome. Also, the queen of Russia was kind of a slut.
Jon Box
A challenging read for those who swallow the myth of John Paul Jones. As a naval history enthusiast, this book is provocative in that it brings to light the life of a very interesting American during frustrating times, who for all his flaws on land, was able to courageously persevere in his battles on the high seas. I found the stories of his ambition, vanity, sexploits, and ever failing search for glory a bit tiring in the end. However, that was his life; and, in this case, the truth is not so ...more
Mike Prochot
All in all, a fact filled biography with details that are almost stunning when one thinks that 220 years have passed since Jones died. Details of ship maneuvers and Jones' sense for ship control and clear thinking during a fight are outstanding. Information regarding Jones' relationships with other "stars" in our Revolution was very interesting as was the story of Jone's as a Russian admiral - with some details that I had not heard before.

Unfortunately, I found this a rather depressing book. Ev
...more
Gary Gudmundson
John Paul Jones (JPJ) was ahead of his time in naval affairs... the US navy finnaly came as he was dying. Though self-absorbed and looking for glory he never shunned a naval fight. In the chapter entitled "A Ghost of Himself" (ch. 15) it says "he had learned that nursing a grudge only brought more bitterness."

JPJ quoted Pope's Universal Prayer to get his fighting sisters to reconcile:
"Teach me to feel another's woe / To bide the fault I see/ That mercy I to others show,/ Such mercy show to me!"

T
...more
Kayse
This book was a fascinating look at the life of John Paul Jones, an unlikely American patriot who went on to be immortalized as the Father of the American Navy.

I knew virtually nothing about Jones prior to reading this, aside from his legendary status among the Parthenon of Revolutionary War Heroes. I learned that Jones was a complicated man; ambitious, yet not a genius; vainglorious, yet humble; not a lover of democracy; yet one of the American Revolution's finest heroes. He was a self-made man
...more
Jason
Heroic, visionary, social climber, patriot, depressive, difficult to get along with others, a victor and self destructive are words that can be used to describe the life of John Paul Jones in Evan Thomas now decade old biography. This is a solid, relatively short work that is accesible to the general reader who has interest in naval warfare, the American founding and the late 18th century. Thomas, besides a career as a journalist and writer, is a high amateur sailer, and is able to articulate na ...more
Jeremy Perron
If there is a movie in need of a modern remake Hollywood should look no further than another John Paul Jones movie based on this book by Evan Thomas. Jones is the only military commander during the Revolution who would take the fight to the Great Britain itself. Thomas's work is an exciting adventure story that is a historical biography.

Born John Paul, Jr. as young man he grew up with little promise in a world that judged your worth by social status of birth. As old orders were challenged, they
...more
Mick
In popular history of the the American War of Independence, very little attention is given to the naval aspects of the conflict. This is due in large to the fact that it was one-sided. Until the later direct involvement of the Dutch, Spanish, and French fleets which brought an end to the war, the Royal Navy's control of the Atlantic was virtually uncontested. Additionally, there are very few figures to whom a modern reader can be drawn.

John Paul Jones (1747 – 1792), a Scottish-born American sai
...more
Almak
Evan Thomas' John Paul Jones: Sailor, Hero, Father of the American Navy was a well written, comprehensive work that gave a fair portrayal of Jones' searching for greatness while continually attempting to overcome his shortcomings (and failing numerous times to do so).

Jones was an incredibly interesting character who was ahead of his time in regard to Naval and warfare tactics. Ever seeking to become a gentleman as well as a great Navy Admiral, he often stumbled due to situations both in and out
...more
Jeremy Touma
This story gave a great point of view of how the life of John Paul Jones was molded and how he always pushed for fame and glory as well as for the cause of freedom. This biography also gives an intereesting point of view of other extremely notable historical figures such as Hancock and Hopkins. John Paul Jones proved to be an extremely persistent man who never took orders easily but knew how to deal them out, and how to win a battle.
Todd Van Meter
A very enjoyable biography of John Paul Jones and his role in the Revolutionary War. A native Scotsman considered a traitor by the British, John Paul Jones was treated as a celebrity by the American people. Nevertheless, he possessed a complicated personality that alienated him from the American millitary hierarchy and limited his rise in the American navy. Little known details of his life are covered including his stint as a naval officer/advisor in the Russian navy, his penchant for romantic e ...more
johnny db
Not the best writing i ever read...
evan thomas writes like he doesnt really like Jones. kind of a negative slant to the whole thing. I think he was trying to make ones out to be a tragic hero... Blind ambition and irrascibility get in the way of Jones meeting his full potential....

I think it's more likely that the nascent U.S. government was not able to create a professional navy and was fairly uninterested in naval power which ld to Jones' inability to dramatically effect any naval events, let
...more
Jim Swike
Excellent biography, I did not know much about John Paul Jones. Great story about John Paul Jones and being part of the Navy during the Sail Era. He was part of the both the US Navy and Thomas Jefferson loaned him to Catherine the Great for the Russian Navy. That probably would not happen again. Enjoy!
brendan
I found Mr. Thomas' biography of John Paul Jones entertaining and informative. I particularly appreciated the honesty.

Paul Jones was dredged out of history and vaulted onto the slopes of mount olympus by the US government. The navy needed a hero. Paul Jones, his life most dynamic and farsighted of histories US naval commanders, obliged. Only many decades of death stood between his utmost living desires, Fame and Glory, and the realization.

As a student of men and particularly men at sea and thei
...more
Clay Asbury
Liked this book, but Thomas writes as though he's still at 'NewsWeek' with a detached neutrality at times. While Jones is a fascinating character study, the book had the feel of a very long article rather than a biography.

Jones was a brave visionary, but he was certainly no Washington, John Adams, Lord Admiral Nelson, Cornwallis, et al. (view spoiler)
...more
A Smith
Good biographic on the father of the Iniyed States Nsvy replete with exciting naval battles and tie ins with the American Revolution.

Also how Jones is an underrated and significant part of our successful rebellion do to his forward thinking, his understanding of psychological warfare on a new scale.

During his life he yearned for glory in sea battles but under appreciated and remained unsung. He is now buried on the catacombs of Annapolis in a sarcophagus as large as Lotd Nelson and Napoleon. H
...more
George
The summary is correct: the description of Jones' engagement on USS Bonhomme Richard with HMS Serapis was indeed engaging. However, the minutiae of Jones' incessant, prigish, whining about his career must have gotten on the nerves of Franklin, Jefferson, Washington, etc. A self described naval strategist, he had many opinions which he freely shared with members of Congress or anyone who would listen. I had a hard time with this book because it droned on about relationships with count-this and du ...more
Sean Pfile
Great bio on the first Naval hero!
Mike Lanski
A sad ending to the life of one of the best captains the US Navy ever had. He deserved a fine ship to command but his continual complaining to others prevented this. A good read.
Paul Skinner
The book was well researched and written, but sometimes finding out what your heroes are really like isn't good.
Greg Goebel
Very balanced portrayal that is fascinating both in the battle depictions, and insights into the mind of an American legend.
Dergrossest
I would have given this book a higher rating because it has all the elements of a good historical work (i.e., an interesting character living in an interesting time and doing interesting stuff), but it is just too damn long. Jones is undoubtedly another true American hero who uttered one of my favorite quotes of all time "I intend to go into harm's way", but his story is apparently just not worthy of a book of this length.
Lee
John Paul Jones was a terrorist to the British. His endeavor of revenge against the aristocrats of England would put him on a no fly list today. Naval warfare in the 1700's was little more than organized pirates fighting for a government. But Jones did understand the need for professional fighters in the manner of the royal navy and that was his big contribution. Interesting contrast to his contemporary John Adams.
Eric
This was an interesting book about an interesting man. Turns out he was brave at sea "I haven't yet begun to fight", but a bit of a small-man on land. He could win sea battles against seemingly insurmountable odds, but then was a crybaby if he didn't get proper recognition from his peers. John Paul Jones: Sailor, Hero, Father of the American Navy...when he wasn't complaining amount his "unfairly" tarnished reputation.
Smh624
A very misunderstood character in the history of the United States. The book does a good job of describing who John Paul Jones was and why he is important. The opening pages are difficult to get through and paint an unappealing picture of Paul Jones almost resulting in my stopping reading the book. I'm glad I read on because in the end the author does an excellent job of placing him in context in American history.
Jfarley
Even though his pride and ego kept getting in the way, John Paul Jones was something rare for the Continental Navy... a captain that actually wanted to fight.



A first-rate account of his life and times with enough intrigue, dirty dealing, backstabbing, mutinies, flirtations, and drunkenness to make you wonder how we ever managed to become a country.
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Evan Thomas has been assistant managing editor at Newsweek since 1991. He is the magazine’s lead writer on major news stories and the author of many longer features, including Newsweek’s special behind-the-scenes issues on presidential elections and more than a hundred cover stories. Thomas was pivotal in spearheading Newsweek’s award-winning coverage on the war on terror from the Washington burea ...more
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