The 17th entry in a series of “Friday Forgotten Books”
When it was suggested we Friday Forgotten Book participants do a post on a favorite book from our own childhood, I thought it was a great idea, but how could I pick just one? Last week I did a pair of books from my early childhood, the Winnie-the-Pooh books by A.A. Milne, this time I follow that up with a rousing adventure from the time I was about 9 or 10 years old.
by Armstrong Sperry, illustrated by the author, 1944, John C. Winston & Co.
The inscription inside this copy shows it was given to my older brother for his birthday, 1949. He would have been ten years old. Later it came to me and I’ve kept it all these years.
If “favorite book from childhood” means one I liked enough to remember, keep and re-read then this one qualifies. For this review I re-read it, and wasn’t disappointed.
The United States is embroiled in the War of 1812, sometimes called the “Second War of Independence” or the “forgotten war.” It was fought until 1815 between the United States and Great Britain, caused mainly by the US resentment of British naval harassment, though there were other points of conflict. The British, at war with France, seized American ships and impressed their crews. The British also blockaded the U.S. Atlantic coast, strangling trade.
This book tells the story of Jason Cobb, son of a respected and admired Captain in the U.S. Navy who was lost at sea. Jason’s mother had to remarry. Her new husband is the owner of the Spar & Barnacle an inn near the coast. To Jason, he is an evil stepfather indeed. After his mother’s death Jason runs away but is soon caught. Fearing for his life he escapes and gets to New Haven, where he finds Captain Tom Blythe of the frigate Thunderbolt. He joins the crew the day before the ship attempts to run the British blockade. It’s a sucessful try, due to the skill of her Captain, and ship and crew go to Haiti, where they seek a treaty with the King to disallow British ships to use the island’s ports.
During the voyage Jason learns the ways of the sea and in an exciting rescue of a shipmate earns the respect of the Captain, and a promotion. On the way home from Haiti, the Thunderbolt engages several ships, including the Lord Nelson, the flagship of the West Indian Fleet, which she captures.
The sea battles are exciting and full of action, there’s lots to learn about such ships and how they were sailed in battle and there’s a satisfying ending, not overly drawn out. This is a great young person’s adventure book in the classic style. There’s nothing like it being written today, sadly.
It was reading this that got me interested in sea fiction so that later on, I read and loved the Hornblower books.
Interesting to note: published in 1944, this book has this notation: “A WARTIME BOOK – this complete edition is produced in full compliance wiht the government’s regulations for conserving paper and other essential materials.”