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Two Years Before the Mast  By  cover art

Two Years Before the Mast

By: Richard Henry Dana
Narrated by: Athur Addison
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Publisher's summary

This is the true story of a Harvard graduate who forsook his studies for two years of the grueling life of an ordinary seaman. This exciting tale was the first to realistically describe the lives of the roughly treated, poorly paid sailors of the merchant marine.

Public Domain (P)1995 Audio Book Contractors, LLC
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about Two Years Before the Mast

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Good, old book

Didn't realize the book was written in the mid 1800s until after I started reading it. It's a wonderful look at the way men used to love and what used to motivate them. Much different than what we expect from ourselves now. Very illuminating.

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2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A Glimpse of a Vanished California

Two Years Before the Mast is one of the great sea stories—and one without battles. It is also a window into a California that disappeared with the gold rush. This reading does it justice.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Must reading

Would you consider the audio edition of Two Years Before the Mast to be better than the print version?

Yes, unless the reader is a sailor and knows the pronunciation of the technical terms. The reader was excellent in mastering these unknown terms.

What other book might you compare Two Years Before the Mast to and why?

I know of no other.

What about Athur Addison’s performance did you like?

His pronunciation appeared accurate, and he dramatized the various characters.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No. It needs time to digest and to research the geography of various locations mentioned, especially in the area near the Anartic.

Any additional comments?

Should be required reading in all California high schools.

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5 people found this helpful

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Must read for all Californians

Living in California but Boston-born, I was fascinated by his descriptions of the California coast of 1835. So different. He was a great observer and was mostly objective, such that one gets a credible history of the early west coast and especially life aboard ships of the time.
The beginning of the story isn’t totally engaging as the sailing terminology is very technical, but there’s adventure ahead. Hang in there and you will be rewarded.

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Great capture of history of early California

This is a unique history of early California before the Gold Rush and the pervasive migration of people. Although, the technical terminology is a bit confusing even for a modern day sailor...I found the story captivating and inspirational.

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Awkward narrator, great story

The narrator was difficult to enjoy, mispronounced quite a few words, and added strange pauses between words.

Despite that, the story is great! To live through his eyes for two years in Mexican California is so interesting. This book is definitely a must listen for anyone who enjoys hearing about life as it was in the past.

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1 person found this helpful

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Interesting, informative, and real

Where does Two Years Before the Mast rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This book ranks among my classics near the top of the list. It is not my favorite but I really enjoyed it. I especially liked that this is an actual account of what it was like to be a deck hand so long ago. It truly is a slice of history preserved in time.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Two Years Before the Mast?

The navigation among the "ice islands" was very memorable. One could almost feel the cold and see the icebergs.

What about Athur Addison’s performance did you like?

I thought he did a fine job. He really brought the book to life.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No, because of the length but otherwise my attention was caught the entire time.

Any additional comments?

I am glad this book is available to us and am saddened by all the accounts of other professions that must have been lost to us over the years.

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3 people found this helpful

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A fascinating story

Richard Henry Dana, Jr's story of his trip as a working sailor in 1834-1836 on a tall ship from Boston around the tip of South America to California and back to me is fascinating on several levels. First he really gives one a feeling for what it was like to be a sailor at the time. There is also the historical information about early California when it was still a part of Mexico -- when the Hawaiian Islands were called the Sandwich Islands. In the appended story of his return to California on a steamer in 1859 he discusses how things had changed from his earlier visit. This gives one a real sense of the human experience of the passage of time.

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A true classic of the sea, well written and well performed

I had read “two years before the mast” several times. this is the first time that I have had it read to me, Mr. Addison did an excellent job, his reading was insightful and with passion. I learned a lot more from this reading then I thought I would. Well done.

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