Two Years Before the Mast

A Personal Narrative of Life at Sea

By Richard Henry Dana; Kirby Heyborne (Read by)
(Tantor Media Inc, Compact Disc, 9781452600314)

Publication Date: December 2010

List Price: $39.99*
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Description

In 1834, Richard Henry Dana, Jr., went from Harvard student to common seaman, sailing from California to Cape Horn. This journal survives as one of the most vivid accounts of the relationship between man and sea-and still rings true as a portrayal of man's endurance.




About the Author
Richard Henry Dana Jr. (1815-1882) was an American lawyer and politician from Massachusetts, a descendant of an eminent colonial family who gained renown as the author of the American classic, the memoir Two Years Before the Mast. Both as a writer and as a lawyer, he was a champion of the downtrodden, from seamen to fugitive slaves. Dana was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on August 1, 1815 into a family that had settled in colonial America in 1640, counting Anne Bradstreet among its ancestors. In July 1831, Dana enrolled at Harvard College, where in his freshman year his support of a student protest cost him a six month suspension. In his junior year, he contracted measles, which in his case led to ophthalmia. Fatefully, the worsening vision inspired him to take a sea voyage. But rather than going on a fashionable Grand Tour of Europe, he decided to enlist as a merchant seaman, despite his high-class birth. On August 14, 1834 he departed Boston aboard the brig Pilgrim bound for Alta California, at that time still a part of Mexico. This voyage would bring Dana to a number of settlements in California (including Monterey, San Pedro, San Juan Capistrano, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, and San Francisco). After witnessing a flogging on board the ship, he vowed that he would try to help improve the lot of the common seaman. After graduating from law school, he went on to specialize in maritime law, writing The Seaman's Friend in 1841 - which became a standard reference on the legal rights and responsibilities of sailors - and defending many common seamen in court. He had kept a diary during his voyages, and in 1840 he published a memoir, Two Years Before the Mast. The term, "before the mast" refers to sailors' quarters, which were located in the forecastle (the ship's bow), officers' quarters being near the stern. His writing evidences his later social feeling for the oppressed. With the California Gold Rush later in the decade, Two Years Before the Mast would become highly sought after as one of the few sources of information on California.

Kirby Heyborne, an accomplished actor, musician, and comedian, has received a number of "AudioFile" Earphones Awards and has narrated such titles as "Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist" by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, "Black Swan Green" by David Mitchell, and "The Genius" by Jesse Kellerman.


Praise For Two Years Before the Mast

"Possesses...the romantic charm of Robinson Crusoe." ---Ralph Waldo Emerson

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