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

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  902 Ratings  ·  69 Reviews
The New York Times bestseller from master biographer Evan Thomas brings to life the tumultuous story of the father of the American Navy.

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, cleve
ebook, 400 pages
Published June 15th 2010 by Simon Schuster (first published 2003)
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(showing 1-30)
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Jason Koivu
Nov 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography
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

What an easy biography to write! The man's life reads like a legend. C.S.
Marty Reeder
Dec 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
Jack Harding
Aug 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Evan Thomas's John Paul Jones: Sailor, Hero, Father of the American Navy is good biography. Thomas covers the life of John Paul Jones from his birth in Scotland to his actions in the US and Russian Navies to his death in France. Jones is shown to be a very flawed individual who often let his own ambition and moodiness get the better of him. Yet, Thomas also paints a picture of a deeply dedicated, patriot whose actions would help change the history of the US Navy.
This is a very enjoyable book. Th
Don Sullivan
Aug 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is well written. I appreciate the forward thinking of John Paul Jones who was really a pioneer espousing tactics that our Navy uses today. With a heart very much akin to the founding fathers, he had some true high ideals that nurtured our seedling nation. It's too bad that he did not achieve the renown that he hoped for or deserved until nearly a hundred years later. The author did not sugar-coat the story of this remarkable man. He had a terrible vanity, but the final verdict is that ...more
David Miller
Jul 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Must be the ultimate name, as 2 people have it and are awesome. Also, the queen of Russia was kind of a slut.
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
One comes away from this biography certain that, thanks to a sterling combination of empathy and research, Evan Thomas knows John Paul Jones almost as well as the indomitable Jones knew himself. This smoothly-written book is a treat to read, and the only part of it that I was at all displeased with was the index, because that couldn't point me back to the nautical definition of "crank" when I had forgotten its meaning a few chapters after Thomas had introduced the term.

I was pleasantly surprised
Lisa Borges
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed the story telling.
David Bush
Jul 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book. Focused heavily on his character deficiencies. Interesting to see the interactions with other key historical figures. Lots of possible lessons learned from his life.
Roger Barnstead
Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
great of course
Ginette Seare
Aug 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ha! Fascinating history here—mostly because I had no idea about his life story.
Jeremy Perron
Jan 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
May 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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!"

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
Mar 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Paul Jones... pirate or naval hero, that depends who you ask. The "father of the American navy" started out as a poor boy in southwestern Scotland but would rise up to be one of the most notorious/celebrated characters of the American Revolution. Evan Thomas puts this flamboyant figure tale to paper. Jones' audacity of attacking the British on their home soil catapulted him to villainy rivalled by no other of his contemporaries. England had not come under direct attack for centuries but her ...more
Nov 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Todd Van Meter
Aug 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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)
Nov 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 15, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a good ... not great ... biography of John Paul Jones. I knew little about his life only his legend. The book provided that nicely. But I did not feel that I got a knowledge of what drove him. He was a very complex man with several flaws but also many strong characteristics. The best learning that I got from the book was the authors conclusion that Jones was generally vilified during his life and his accomplishments generally exaggerated after his death. Apparently, most of the quotes a ...more
Adam Christian Smith
May 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Early American History buffs whom need filling in on our fledgling naval efforts.
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
Tom Rowe
I didn't know much about John Paul Jones before I read this, and apparently all of that was fiction. So, I learned about him. The naval battle between the Bonhomme Richard and the Serapis was very well written and as fascinating a naval battle as I have ever read. I also like how Jones would tweak the British by sneaking into England and taking silver tea sets. Or how he was able to freely travel through England because the propaganda wanted posters made him look like a crazed bearded pirate and ...more
Jon Box
Nov 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, history
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
Jun 21, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible
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
Sep 26, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I learned a lot reading this book. I previously read a biography of John Adams and there are minor connections between these people. Both living in the same time period helps you get a broader view of things. Politics then was not all that different from now and the failures of each person always find a way to make you wonder how much more they might have done had they not had that flaw. In John Paul "Jones" case he did a lot with his life but wanted to do so much more and mostly tripped over hi ...more
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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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