Winner of the Samuel Eliot Morrison Award for Excellence in Naval Literature.
This fresh look at America's first sea warrior avoids both the hero worship of the past and the recent, inaccurate deconstructionist views of John Paul Jones's astonishing life. The author goes beyond a narrow naval context to establish Jones as a key player in the American Revolution, something not done by previous biographers, and explains what drove him to his achievements. At the same time, Admiral Joseph Callo fully examines Jones's dramatic military achievements—including his improbable victory off Flamborough Head in the Continental ship Bonhomme Richard—but in the context of the times rather than as stand-alone events.
The book also looks at some interesting but lesser-known aspects of Jones's naval career, including his relationships with such civilian leaders as Benjamin Franklin. How Jones handled those often-difficult dealings, Callo maintains, contributed to the nation's concept of civilian control of the military. Suggesting that Jones might well be the first U.S. apostle of sea power, the author also focuses on the fact that Jones was the first serving American naval officer who emphasized the role naval power would play in the rise of the United States as a global power. Another neglected aspect of Jones's career that gets attention and analysis is his brief tour in the Russian navy, a revealing chapter of his life that has been underreported in the two hundred years since Jones's death. Rather than looking at Jones in a rearview mirror, Callo illuminates how this unique naval hero is linked to the nation's present and future. As a result, he gives us a sea saga that tells much about our own lives and times.