It is the story of a sailor's life from the forecastle, not a captain, nor a passenger, but a regular hand. The book was a great favorite with the jack tar of Dana's day, and two thousand copies are said to have been sold to Liverpool sailors in a single day. Even those who haven't the faintest idea what reefing topsail is, or which is starboard and which larboard, will find it an engaging story of an era long past told in simple narrative style.
What a gift that the days of sailing ships, life at sea, and the earliest days of the development of the California coast is so well captured in such descriptive detail in this book. I recommend it to everyone.
Wow! What a read! To learn of living history rather than a political one. It’s no wonder that Jack London made reference to this work in his own collection, The Human Drift. I’d recommend for any reader to allot extra time to truly absorb this work. So glad I did to the very end.
Nostalgic Trip for an Old Sailor
Unlike most "sea stories", this book is a true account of a young man's time at sea. I first encountered this book over fifty years ago when dredging up quotes to put in a maritime academy yearbook. Dana's account of living and working about a sailing vessel in the early 19th Century made my six years aboard ship seem like a pleasure cruise. To make it even more fun for this California boy, Dana describes in detail the surrounding landmarks during time spent ashore in old California.
The real treat was the closing chapter, written 25 years after Dana's return to Boston. He takes a steamer to San Francisco, then tours the now state, meeting old acquaintances who later became famous historical figures in California's history.
You don't have to be a sailor or a Californian to get a good kick out of this book.