|Richard Henry Dana (1815-1882)|
The book is apparently out of print, so I trolled ebay looking for an old or antiquarian hard cover edition for my library. I couldn't find anything I liked, so I hopped onto iBooks and found an edition there. For free! Got to love technology! So far, the novel is a surprisingly easy to read, with very little in the language to mark it as having been written in the 1800s. This is because Dana's style is very crisp and lacks the filigree and ornamentation sometimes found in writers of the era. I've been reading it on planes and during my business travels, and I find that I like reading books this way because I always worry about how traveling with books can damage them.
Dana also seems to have been an interesting person in real life. Aside from his two years at sea, he was a lawyer who defied the people of his social circle to defend fugitive slaves. He was also a supporter of the Free Soil movement, which fought against slavery expanding into new territories as the United States stretched across the continent to the Pacific.
By the way, the picture at left is a photo of a replica of the ship that Dana sailed in, the Pilgrim, during his travels. In fact, I believe Dana Point in California got its name from - you guessed it - Richard Henry Dana.