Sea Captain from Salem
It is 1777 and the American War for Independence is at an impasse. The struggling new nation┐s need for help sends Benjamin Franklin to Paris to seek an alliance with France. How can he convince the French that the American battle is worth joining? The surprising answer to his dilemma appears in the unlikely and unforgettable form of a fisherman named Peace of God Manly, first introduced in Peter Treegate┐s War. Franklin puts Peace of God in command of the sloop of war Hornet with orders to harass British ships in their own waters. Soon tales of the unique and daring exploits of this devout but fiery sea captain from Salem are buzzing in the government halls of both France and Britain. A rollicking third entry in the Treegate Series.
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I read a lot and rarely find books that keep me up later than midnight. This was a page-turner for me.
If you emjoy the Aubrey / Maturin novels, like Master and Commander, this book is from the same period.. though, being twenty-some years before those novels, the English are now the bad guys. Compared with Patrick O'Brian's writing style, I found Wibberley's style much easier to digest. You'll still get lots of details about rigging a ship, but you don't need a separate Naval Dictionary on hand just to imagine which way the ship is turning.
If you enjoy the character of Benjamin Franklin, you will like his portrayal here. Though he is a minor character who has lines only at the beginning and the end of this novel, Franklin is shown as the Enlightenment scientist even on matters of human behavior, as if he were an early psychologist or sociologist, which is a fresh, but accurate view of him in my opinion.
There are accounts in Franklin's letters of American strafing of British shores during the conflict, while Franklin was in France. So this much, at least, is based on fact. I revere an author who can take a little piece of fact and fill in the details with lovable characters and exciting plot.
The hero of the story is Peace of God Manly, who is an example of American Protestantism (see Gary Wills book, American Christianity). Though I do not share the lingo of P.O.G. Manly, I do share his reverence for what he does not know, and his faith and trust in this power. It is easy for the reader to look past the overly-christian language spoken by the hero and see him for the hero he is, and how trusting in t some kind of higher power or synchronicity can lead to amazing unexpected results It is an empowering experience to read this book, whether you are religious or simply a person who has sany kind of reverence.
Also, as an american, this reminds me of the pride that early americans had, especially under the influence of Franklin. It was (if I may simplify), a simple belief in the equality of all humans, and fairness. The story depicts the unfairness that had occurred and how Manly, the hero, would do his part to rectify the balance. I am still sort of tingling by how Manly would apply humility to this endeavor; whenever he needed to fire a weapon, he would pray for the soul of the people who may be harmed, eve though they were his enemies. This reminds me of Albert Schweitzer's dictum, "reverence for life".. Schweitzer said that lives must sometimes be lost, for example, plants must be harvested to feed the cows. However, it would be wrong to then , walking by a plant, reach out and snap off its bud or flower, for this injury dd not sere a purpose that was necessary for life. I feel proud as an american to have a hero like Manly representing me.. it sort of gives me more hope to be an American, that we could find this quality again.