Friday, August 12, 2016

Review: Sea Road to Yorktown by Harvey Haislip

Synopsis: At the outset of this rough-and-tumble tale of sea dogs and sea fighting during the American Revolution, Midshipman Tommy Potter had already seen much of the blood and danger of war. But even though he had been a protégé of John Paul Jones, with a stint as prize master under his belt, Tommy was still in his teens…and he had a lot to learn before he became a man. Under orders from Ben Franklin to return home from the shores of France where he had been cast up by the tides of war, Tommy decided instead to throw in his lot with the motley assortment of men who piloted the sleek privateer, Princes, an “unauthorized” vessel of the French and the American Colonies. In charge of the restive, hybrid crew were a sick captain, Muldin, a surly and rebellious second mate, and First Mate Gascoyne, a wily, dashing Frenchman who preferred to conceal his noble birth. Aboard the Princess, Tommy was to follow a perilous course that would lead him to Martinique and the Spanish Main, where smuggling under the threatening bows of English frigates – and the attentions of a beautiful French colonist – would soon hasten Tommy on to manhood.  And before the end of this swashbuckling novel, Tommy Potter was to find himself and the Princess in the service of the French Admiral, Comte de Grasse – and the young midshipman would be counted on t play a vital role in the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown. (from the inside cover of the book)

Review: Written with in the same swashbuckling adventure style as Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian or the Hortatio Hornblower series by C.S. Forester, this book is set during the end of the American Revolution. An American sailor has many adventures – epic sea battles, daring escapes, first loves, smuggling sugar, and dangerous enemies – before finding himself in the Comte de Grasse fleet as this brave French sailor heads for the Chesapeake Bay and the last great battle of the Revolution. Haislip maintains historical accuracy while dragging us from one narrow escape to the next.
I enjoyed seeing the war from the point of few of the French navy who blockade the Bay and forced the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown. Haislip, being a naval man, has an excellent grasp of how ships work at sea and his depictions of the actual sailing is exceptionally detailed – if a bit tedious at times. His characterizations are a bit flat and stereotypical, but enjoyable –and let’s be honest – we aren’t reading this because it’s high literature. It’s an adventure novel, and it is a fine example of one. Worth reading. Would be excellent for a summer day on the beach, with a cold drink and the blue water at your feet. 

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Year Published: 1960
Date Finished: 7-31-2016
Pages: 288

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