John Paul Jones: Sailor, Hero, Father of the American Navy

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John Paul Jones: Sailor, Hero, Father of the American Navy

Author: Evan Thomas
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Copyright: 2003
Pages: 400
Cover Price: $ 16.00

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John Paul Jones, at sea and in the heat of battle, was the great American hero of the Age of Sail. Evan Thomas draws on Jones' wide-ranging correspondence with some of the most significant figures of the American Revolution - John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson - to paint a compelling portrait of a tortured warrior who was that most interesting and essential of American figures, the entirely self-made man.

The son of a Scottish gardener (or possibly the bastard son of the lord of the manor), Jones fought his way up from second mate on a slave ship to become a mythic figure, hailed as the father of the navy, buried in a crypt (modeled after Napoleon's Tomb) beneath the chapel of the U.S. Naval Academy. Along the way he was an accused murderer (forced to flee to America under an assumed name); a notorious rake in Parisian society; and an admiral in the navy of Catherine the Great, fighting against the Turks in the Black Sea. He was a singularly successful naval officer during the American Revolution because he was both bold and visionary.

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's spirit was classically American.

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Background Information

Before the advent of steam-powered vessels, American ships under sail roamed the oceans of the world. The United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, has been training officers for the United States Navy since 1845. The Founding Fathers are those men who participated in the country's principal documents, primarily the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.