Philip Nolan

The Man Without a Country

Hardcover $10.18
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Philip Nolan: The Man Without a Country is Chuck Pfarrer’s captivating adaptation of Edward Everett Hale’s American classic “The Man Without a Country,” first published in The Atlantic Monthly more than a century ago. Masterfully blending history and fiction, Pfarrer tells the story of a young artillery officer, Philip Nolan, who becomes embroiled in Aaron Burr’s 1807 conspiracy to invade the territories of the Louisiana Purchase. Insinuating his scheme has official approval, Burr convinces Nolan to carry a coded message into the Orleans Territory. Nolan has no knowledge of the former vice president’s intended treason—and Burr has no idea that Thomas Jefferson has discovered his scheme. Soon Philip Nolan is in military custody with Burr, charged an accessory to the plot.

The nation holds its breath as Burr is tried for attempting to tear apart the Union. The charges against Burr seem ironclad, but his lawyers are clever, and Burr walks free. An embarrassed prosecution looks for a scapegoat, and expands the charges against Nolan to include desertion and sedition. Learning that his own court martial will proceed, despite Burr’s acquittal, Nolan denounces his accusers, damns his country, and tells the court he wishes never again to hear the words “United States” as long as he lives. The judges return with an ominous verdict: the prisoner’s wish will be granted. Nolan is sentenced to permanent exile aboard a series of U.S. warships, never again to hear news from or speak of his country.

Decades pass. Shuttled from ocean to ocean, Nolan realizes he is a stateless person, estranged from his keepers and forgotten by his country. Eventually passed aboard an American frigate in the Mediterranean, Nolan comes into the custody of a newly commissioned lieutenant, Frank Curran. When Barbary pirates capture an American whaleship, the pair is drawn into a web of international deceit and mortal danger. As a rescue mission is launched, Nolan teaches the young officer a lesson about duty, loyalty, and the meaning of patriotism.


Equal parts adventure, naval history, and morality tale, Philip Nolan: The Man Without a Country is more than frigate duels and small boat actions. Intricately plotted and beautifully crafted, the novel is a poignant and closely observed examination of the human condition.

Editorial Reviews

"The construction of the book itself is solid and the narrative flows well...the book is highly recommended."  —Starshell
"Chuck Pfarrer knows how to tell a good story, and Phillip Nolan: The Man Without a Country is one of the best naval-themed novels published by the Naval Institute Press in its long history. A former sailor—Pfarrer was a Navy SEAL during the late stages of the Cold War—he uses crisp and clean prose to evoke the sights, smells, sounds, and raw emotions of 19th Century naval warfare. Fans of C.S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower and Patrick O'Brian's Master and Commander books will find this adaptation of an old American classic to be one of those novels they can't put down."—
"Chuck Pfarrer writes a stunning historical novel entitled Philip Nolan: The Man Without a Country—a great sea adventure story. Pfarrer's novel has its share of twists and turns. It is as unpredictable at the sea itself. I would recommend it to anybody who is fascinated with the sea and loved reading sea adventure stories in childhood."—San Diego Book Review
"Pfarrer takes us on a journey with all the flavor and bravado of the era. Don't pass up this book."—The Ensign (U.S. Power Boat Squadrons)
"Move over, Patrick O'Brian. Chuck Pfarrer knows the sea intimately, fathoms the American past with the keenest of eyes, and writes with a lyrical authenticity rarely found in modern historical fiction. Philip Nolan is an engaging, epic masterpiece."—David Freed, Pulitzer Prize winner, author of the Cordell Logan mysteries
"Equal parts adventure, naval history, and morality tale, Philip Nolan: The Man Without a Country is more than frigate duels and small boat actions. Intricately plotted and beautifully crafted, the novel is a poignant and closely observed examination of the human condition. An inherently fascinating and consistently entertaining read from beginning to end, Philip Nolan: The Man Without a Country is highly recommended and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Historical Fiction collections."—Midwest Book Review
"Anyone interested in an unforgettable tale from the age of fighting sail should read this book. Chuck Pfarrer transforms Edward Everett Hale's classic short story 'The Man without a Country' into a spellbinding high-seas adventure that's impossible to put down."—George C. Daughan, author of 1812: The Navy's War and Revolution on the Hudson: New York City and the Hudson River Valley in the American War of Independence
"At first, I was dubious about a fiction based upon a fiction, but it didn't take me long to be completely drawn into this timely reworking of an old story. I wrote an admiring review for Mr. Pfarrer's powerful Killing Che some years back. Once more, the author's handling of the period and of his characters is impressive. His immersion in 19th-century manners and mores, his understanding of what makes a great Age of Sail narrative, and his passionate storytelling and heart-pounding descriptions of warfare at sea made for a terrific read. Highly recommended!"—Editors' Choice, Historical Novel
" is the interesting life of Nolan that takes the book to the next level and makes it hard to put down as you wish to know how things will turn out for him. Highly recommended."—Historic Naval
"Over the years I've acquired many books that I call 'keepers'—ones I permanently add to my collection to savor at a later time—but the instant I finished reading Philip Nolan, I wanted to immediately read it again. A momentary lapse in good judgment has a profound and devastating effect, not just on Philip Nolan, but also on the reader. Pfarrer spins his tale so artfully that it's easy to follow the events and understand how and why politics can impact outcomes. But once the story moves to the Enterprise the heart-thumping action captures our attention and makes us forget to breathe. Although we know Nolan's ultimate fate from the start, how events unfold and how he meets that fate collide in a riveting story of desolation, coping, and patriotism."—Pirates and Privateers
"In early 19th century America, a man's honor could be worth more than life itself. In this rousing novel, Chuck Pfarrer gives us a hero who loses his country but not his honor. A gripping, imaginative treatment of a famous old tale—it will pull you in and carry you to its bittersweet end."—Evan Thomas, author of John Paul Jones and Sea of Thunder