Worth the Read – Two Years Before the Mast

by on March 7th, 2015
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Two Years Before the Mast

In this series of Worth The Read, I have stayed away from the classics. There has been a couple of Science Fiction, a couple of older fiction titles by all but forgotten authors and two geographic exploration. This review is the closest I will come to a classic. I’ll leave the classics to the scholars.

The book, Two Years before the Mast , by Richard Henry Dana. Published by Harper & Brothers, 1840. The authors first book. A title that has sustained itself for one hundred and seventy years has substance. It has character and captures the essence of its time. It passes from the authors hands and matures into the world of literature.

His journey takes place aboard the Pilgrim. He travels from Boston to Brazil and continues around Cape Horn. The ship and crew make their way to California that was a remote land under the authority of Mexico. In the year 1835, they make trade at the ports of San Diego, San Pedro, Santa Barbara and San Francisco.

We are treated to a description of a ‘Californios’ society wedding. There is a spot in the book where the crew are tossing cow hides over the side of a cliff to get them to the beach and then loaded on board. Some of the hides only made it part of the way down. Crew members send Dana over the side on ropes to free the stuck hides. That place became Dana Point, Ca. (Something I learned today.)

His work has become a valuable reference for the descriptions of pre-gold rush California. Two Years Before the Mast is both a sea story and captures the beauty of Spanish California in the days of freedom and fiestas.

Two Years Before the Mast – Worth the Read


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