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Hammond offers an exciting look at life in the young republic, a time when America remained a weak nation with no navy to protect its prosperous merchant fleet from Barbary pirates and European nations intent on crippling its shipping.
The novel opens with the capture of the Cutler merchant brig Eagle by Barbary pirates. Young Caleb Cutler and his shipmates are taken as prisoners to Algiers. Richard, his brother, is then sent to North Africa to pay the ransom demanded by the Dey of Algiers to free them. When the dey rejects the offer, Richard must defend his ship and the ransom from attack by Algerian pirates. After repulsing the pirates in a fierce battle at sea , Richard travels to Paris to report to John Paul Jones, his former naval commander, who has been dispatched to serve as America’s emissary to the Barbary States. In Paris, amid the tumult of the French Revolution, Richard engages in a desperate attempt to save his former lover, the beautiful Anne-Marie Helvétian, and her two daughters from the guillotine.
The author’s careful historical research and thorough knowledge of sailing and the ways of the sea bring authenticity to the novel without detracting from the entertaining storyline. Hammond’s focus on the American perspective of the Age of Fighting Sail in the years following the American Revolution adds a fresh dimension to historical novels of the period.
- Naval Institute Press, March 2011
Naval Institute Press
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