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The Maritime History of Massachusetts 1783-1860

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From Preface: "Here is no catalogue of ships, reader, nor naval chronicle, but a story of maritime enterprise; of the shipping, seaborne commerce, whaling, and fishing belonging to one American commonwealth. I have chosen to catch the story at half flood, when Massachusetts vessels first sought Far-Eastern waters, and to stay with it only so long as wind and sail would serve. For to one who has sailed a clipper ship, even in fancy, all later models of ocean carriage must seem decadent."--Samuel Eliot Morison

420 pages, paper

First published January 1, 1921

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About the author

Samuel Eliot Morison

157 books80 followers
Samuel Eliot Morison, son of John H. and Emily Marshall (Eliot) Morison, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on 9 July 1887. He attended Noble’s School at Boston, and St. Paul’s at Concord, New Hampshire, before entering Harvard University, from which he was graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1908. He studied at the Ecole Libre des Sciences Politiques, Paris, France, in 1908-1909, and returned to Harvard for postgraduate work, receiving the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in 1912. Thereafter he became Instructor, first at the University of California in Berkeley, and in 1915 at Harvard. Except for three years (1922-1925) when he was Harmsworth Professor of American History at Oxford, England, and his periods of active duty during both World Wars, he remained continuously at Harvard University as lecturer and professor until his retirement in 1955.

He had World War I service as a private in the US Army, but not overseas. As he had done some preliminary studies on Finland for Colonel House’s Inquiry, he was detailed from the Army in January 1919 and attached to the Russian Division of the American Commission to Negotiate Peace, at Paris, his specialty being Finland and the Baltic States. He served as the American Delegate on the Baltic Commission of the Peace Conference until 17 June 1919, and shortly after returned to the United States. He became a full Professor at Harvard in 1925, and was appointed to the Jonathan Trumbull Chair in 1940. He also taught American History at Johns Hopkins University in 1941-1942.

Living up to his sea-going background – he has sailed in small boats and coastal craft all his life. In 1939-1940, he organized and commanded the Harvard Columbus Expedition which retraced the voyages of Columbus in sailing ships, barkentine Capitana and ketch Mary Otis. After crossing the Atlantic under sail to Spain and back, and examining all the shores visited by Columbus in the Caribbean, he wrote Admiral of the Ocean Sea, an outstanding biography of Columbus, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1943. He also wrote a shorter biography, Christopher Columbus, Mariner. With Maurico Obregon of Bogota, he surveyed and photographed the shores of the Caribbean by air and published an illustrated book The Caribbean as Columbus Saw It (1964).

Shortly after the United States entered World War II, Dr. Morison proposed to his friend President Roosevelt, to write the operational history of the US Navy from the inside, by taking part in operations and writing them up afterwards. The idea appealed to the President and Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, and on 5 May 1942, Dr. Morison was commissioned Lieutenant Commander, US Naval Reserve, and was called at once to active duty. He subsequently advanced to the rank of Captain on 15 December 1945. His transfer to the Honorary Retired List of the Naval Reserve became effective on 1 August 1951, when he was promoted to Rear Admiral on the basis of combat awards.

In July-August 1942 he sailed with Commander Destroyer Squadron Thirteen (Captain John B. Heffernan, USN), on USS Buck, flagship, on convoy duty in the Atlantic. In October of that year, on USS Brooklyn with Captain Francis D. Denebrink, he participated in Operation TORCH (Allied landings in North and Northwestern Africa - 8 November 1942). In March 1943, while attached to Pacific Fleet Forces, he visited Noumea, Guadalcanal, Australia, and on Washington made a cruise with Vice Admiral W. A. Lee, Jr., USN. He also patrolled around Papua in motor torpedo boats, made three trips up “the Slot” on Honolulu, flagship of Commander Cruisers, Pacific Fleet (Rear Admiral W.W. Ainsworth, USN), and took part in the Battle of Kolombangara before returning to the mainland. Again in the Pacific War Area in September 1943, he participated in the Gilbert Islands operation on board USS Baltimore, under command of Captain Walter C. Calhoun, USN. For the remainder of the Winter he worked at Pearl Harbor, and in the Spring

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 3 of 3 reviews
10 reviews
June 4, 2019
Five-star text by one of the 20th Century's preeminent naval historians, but the Kindle version is marred by many typos and the absence of illustrations from the print version. Written in language that will seem either elegant or somewhat archaic, depending on your taste, this book effectively summarizes a fascinating period in an equally fascinating geographical region. It's loaded with delightful anecdotes and details, and it does a great job outlining the various social, technological, and economic that shape global trade. Roughly a century old, the text may not reflect the latest in historical thought, and the author assumes a greater understanding of the major events of the 19th century than most readers today can muster. But this is a classic historical text, well worth the time to read it.

But the typos! The density of errors it totally unacceptable, and these are not just trivial errors: many dates are missing, and many errors obscure the meaning of the passage they fall in. It's absurd that Kindle versions can be cleaned up to at least a basic standard of correctness. One full star taken off for failure to proofread.

And the missing illustrations! Many are referenced in the text, and again, their absence greatly weakens the effectiveness of the book. One more full star taken off for leaving the pictures out.

Read this book, but try to find a print copy on eBay or at your public library. Avoid buying the Kindle version, which would only encourage the purveyors of ebooks to continue foisting substandard crap off onto the reading public.
Profile Image for Lance Caselman.
8 reviews2 followers
April 26, 2022
One of the most interesting history books I've ever read. It made me realize how little I know about my own country's history and how interesting that history is. This is a saga told with color and spice and I enjoyed every page.
Profile Image for Ken-ichi.
593 reviews555 followers
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January 4, 2010
I read a wonderfully hyperbolic excerpt from this book on the placard beside a model clipper at the Museum of Science in Boston today. Filled me with shiplust and Yankee pride.
Displaying 1 - 3 of 3 reviews

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