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Publisher's Summary

John Paul Jones, at sea and in the heat of battle, was the great American hero of the Age of Sail. He was to history what Patrick O'Brian's Jack Aubrey and C. S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower are to fiction. Ruthless, indomitable, clever; he vowed to sail, as he put it, "in harm's way."

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.

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
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    21
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    8
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    2
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Story

  • 4.0 out of 5.0
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  • Overall
  • Bruce
  • Gresham, OR, USA
  • 03-16-04

Swashbuckler or Saviour

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.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Enlightening Text, Horrible Narrator

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)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Great book... HORRIBLE narrator...

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • David
  • West Newton, MA, USA
  • 07-15-05

Very Interesting Read

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Poor recording quality

Enjoyed the story but found the recording irritating to listen to because the performer was sitting in a squeaking chair! There are also a few insurances where I could hear other voices talking in the background.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

very informative

Thought it was a great story. I thought it did a good job telling the whole vice the bits The Navy teaches.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Great read, good narration.

Very informative. Narrated well. Very well put together. I would buy this again, and would recommend it to a friend.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Horrible Narration

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Anyone who doesn't mind listening to a narrator who insists on doing every quote with a hideous accent. The book is filled with numerous quotes by Jones.

Who was your favorite character and why?

It is an historical account of John Paul Jones life. I guess it would be John Paul Jones.

How could the performance have been better?

The narrator constantly used a horrible accent that drifted from a really bad Irish accent into an American accent. He was trying to do a Scottish accent because Jones was from Scotland. His forced rolling of his Rs was painful to listen to. He would have been better off not doing any accent at all. I find it hard to even finish this well written book. It has been a nauseating experience. Why didn't someone stop Dan Cashman from this performance? Who was the production exec in charge of this fiasco? Cashman owes the author a sincere apology.

What character would you cut from John Paul Jones?

The narrator Dan Cashman

Any additional comments?

The only reason I gave the performance 1 star is because I couldn't give it a MINUS star!! The narrator ruined a perfectly good book. I have listened to audible for quite awhile and this is the first time I have been truly disgusted.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Self Serving

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.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Local "baern" does good.

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.