Two Years Before the Mast
In 1834, a Harvard student enlisted as a common seamanthe result was this adventure classic. Crackling with realism, it offers memorable views of a dangerous voyage, vividly describing storms, whales, an insane captain, excruciating hardships, and magical beauty, as well as fascinating historical detail, including a portrait of California before the gold rush....more
In a way, the best thing for a writer is misfortune. In that regard, Richard Henry Dana, Jr. got lucky.
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 ...more
dana passes the equator four times over the two years that he is a merchant mariner sailing to, the then mexican owned california, to load his ship with hides bound ...more
I recall how Dana records the loss of their first crewman off South America; this, ...more
Having heard the book's title referenced for years, I'd always assumed it was a fictional adventure tale, but, no, it ...more
White Jacket was, of course, at least partially inspired by this book, and after reading "Two Years" I can certainly see the influence reflected in Dana's work.
This book has, essentially, two scenes that are varied throughout the book. The first scene is "life on board the 19th century clipper s ...more