John Paul Jones is more than a great sea story. Jones is a character for the ages. John Adams called him the "most ambitious and intriguing officer in the American Navy." The renewed interest in the Founding Fathers reminds us of the great men who made this country, but John Paul Jones teaches us that it took fighters as well as thinkers, men driven by dreams of personal glory as well as high-minded principle to break free of the past and start a new world. Jones' spirit was classically American. Evan Thomas brings his skills as a biographer to this complex, protean figure whose life and rise are both thrilling as a tale of dauntless courage and revealing about the birth of a nation.
©2003 Evan Thomas; (P)2003 Tantor Media, Inc.
"Superlative....Both Jones and his latest biographer can justly be praised as masters of their respective crafts." (Publishers Weekly)
"Evan Thomas captures all the incongruities, vanities, blazing ambition, and phenomenal courage of his subject." (David McCullough, author of John Adams)
"With the skill appropriate to a polished journalist, Thomas chronicles the short, but glorious, life of a brilliant, but frustratingly difficult, man, who was the first American naval hero....This is a fine account of the life of an admirable, but deeply flawed, man." (Booklist)
I enjoy reading history, both non-fiction and historical novels. While I am not in a position to question the accuracy of the biography presented by Evan Thomas, I believe he has taken on the task well and shown many sides of the life and times of John Paul Jones. JPJ is one of those characters in our past whom we tend to remember only by the few sounds bites which become imfamous. The rest being mostly captured in our vague imaginations. This book helped immensely to put the father of the American navy into perspective for me. Even more so by the outstanding narrations which were intoned with fluent and believable accents and personalities. I enjoyed the read, a bit long towards the end, but recommended to anyone who enjoys historical biographies.
The text itself is paints a pretty solid picture of John Paul Jones but while the narrator's normal voice is pretty good, he keeps wrecking it every time he attempts to do a different accent for quotes. He makes a Scottish John Paul Jones sound almost Spanish and every quote is read with a forced lilt and awkward emphases. I found myself dreading the next quote so much that it distracted from the author's words.
If you're looking for a good naval history here on Audible, skip this and check out these instead:
Storm and Conquest (by Stephen Taylor), Empire of Blue Water (by Stephan Talty), and Empires of the Sea, by (Roger Crowley)
Well written book about an American hero who was far more complex than what we all learned in high school textbooks. The author does a nice job of pointing out the positives and flaws with Jones. While another review enjoyed the accents of the narrator - that was the one downside to my listen -- it got old after awhile.
The summary is correct: the description of Jones' engagement on USS Bonhomme Richard with HMS Serapis was indeed engaging. However, the minutiae of Jones' incessant, prigish, whining about his career must have gotten on the nerves of Franklin, Jefferson, Washington, etc. A self described naval strategist, he had many opinions which he freely shared with members of Congress or anyone who would listen. I had a hard time with this book because it droned on about relationships with count-this and duke-that. It took me months to finish listening.
While the naration is well (including various accents to distinguish the important players in Jones' life), the major problem is Jones himself. While there is little that can be said, or done, to diminish the single most important (and incredible) action that made Jones famous (exceptionally retold in this biography), it's the years following that make the story so disappointing.
Alas, such is true, on some level or another, in all our lives, I'm afraid.
Still, it is a good, and important, "read", especially when balancing his life's thread by the actions of other important "players" during the "War of Independence."
Overall, I don't think you will be disappointed with this purchase.
The story was fractured and lacked the depth I expected. The narration was atrocious. The narrator made numerous attempts at a Scottish accent throughout his narration. It is unthinkable that a narrator who cannot correctly pronounce Culloden would be successful using a Scottish accent. My wife is Scottish and I know a Scottish accent and he didn't pull it off. His excessive use of a Scottish accent is distracting to say the least. The Audible sample is real cute, Dan Cushman with a rare portion of the book where he doesn't attempt a Scottish accent.
I’m sure this book in the print version is wonderful, so I cast absolutely no dispersions on the author…
BUT, whoever found the narrator should have made sure that their reader actually knew how to pronounce fairly commonplace nautical terms, in what is after all a nautical biography.
An example: The “forecastle” should NEVER be pronounced “fore-castle”; it is pronounced, “Foc-sil”. I know, I know, it makes no sense when applied to normal, everyday speech; but this is not everyday speech, this is sailor-talk which has a vocabulary and pronunciation all its own.
I have purchased well over 400 audio-books via this site, and have enjoyed the vast majority. This is the first time I have ever stopped listening to an audio-selection and deleted it from my file library. This mispronunciation of terms begins to grate almost immediately, and I warn any sailor or mariner who listens to this audio-book, it get’s so consuming that you might have to stop listening.
So be warned.
Evan Thomas put a lot of research into "John Paul Jones" and the book offers some good insights into the man's character. Unfortunately, he continues to offer them over and over again. Also, he seems a bit blas? about Paul Jones' admission regarding events behind the scandal that brought about Paul Jones' downfall in Russia. Thomas doesn't condone the act, but doesn't incorporate it into his assessment of his subject's character. (I talk around the point to avoid spoiling anyone's listen.)
This is an interesting biography of John Paul Jones, but it is nearly ruined by the narrator. He mangles English pronunciation, not to mention the French (which would be more forgivable). In attempting to give Jones a Scottish accent, he produces a very bad American version of an Irish accent. Buy the book and read it; but don't subject yourself to this particular audio.
This is an extremely well written book about a fascinating historical figure. The reader is excellent and presents the material in a lively and interesting manner.
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