Ungentle Goodnights

Life in a Home for Elderly and Disabled Naval Sailors and Marines and the Perilous Seafaring Careers that Brought Them There
If you are a member, log in to receive member pricing
Published:November 1, 2018

Ungentle Goodnights uses the records of the United States Naval Asylum (later the United States Naval Home), a residence for disabled and elderly sailors and Marines established by the U.S. government, to recover the lives of the 541 men who were admitted there as lifetime residents between 1831 and 1866. The records of the Naval Asylum are an especially rich source for discovering these lower-deck lives because would-be residents were required to submit summaries of their naval careers as part of the admission process. Using these and related records, published and manuscript, it is possible to reconstruct the veterans' lives from their teenage years (and sometimes earlier) until their deaths. Previous historians who have written about the pre-Civil War naval enlisted force have depended on published nineteenth-century sailor and Marine autobiographies, which may not accurately reflect the realities of enlisted life. Ungentle Goodnights seeks to discover the life experiences of real Marines and naval sailors, not a few of whom were misbehaving, crafty, and engaging individuals who feature prominently in the book.




List Price: $34.95
Member Price: $20.97
Product Details
  • Subject: Veterans/Military Life
  • Hardcover : 352 pages
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press (November 1, 2018)
  • ISBN-10: 1591145732
  • ISBN-13: 9781591145738
  • Product Dimensions: 6.125 X 9.25 in
  • Shipping Weight: 24.8 oz
  • “Christopher McKee has written another splendid book on the military personnel in the nineteenth-century U.S. Navy. With the skillful use papers of the U.S. Naval Home that cared for disabled and aged sailors and Marines, he is able to give us a rare glimpse into the enlisted world and their post-service difficulties. Chock full of fascinating anecdotes and character sketches, this is a must read for anyone interested in the history of the United States Navy.” —Joseph T. Glatthaar, Stephenson Distinguished Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of American Military: A Concise History
  • “Christopher McKee, author of the seminal work on the early U.S. naval officer corps (1798-1815), has provided us a magisterial slice about 541 U.S. naval enlisted men before 1865. Using the records of Philadelphia’s United States Naval Asylum, which served as a refuge for retired sailors from 1834-1976, he teases out a rich story about their lives—from teenage years to death—and about the place they called home. This impressive book sheds important light on antebellum U.S. naval enlisted men.” —Gene Allen Smith, author of Thomas ap Catesby Jones: Commodore of Manifest Destiny, professor of early American history, Texas Christian University
  • Ungentle Goodnights is the masterpiece by Christopher McKee that we have been awaiting for two decades. In brilliantly mixed vernaculars of scholars and seamen, he tells the story of the nineteenth century American sailor through the focal point of the Naval Asylum in Philadelphia. Read and rejoice at eloquent erudition.” —Kenneth Hagan, Professor and Museum Director Emeritus, U.S. Naval Academy, Captain, USNR (Ret.)

CHRISTOPHER MCKEE is Samuel R. and Marie-Louise Rosenthal Professor Emeritus at Grinnell College. He is the author of Edward Preble: A Naval Biography, 1761–1807, and A Gentlemanly and Honorable Profession: The Creation of the U. S. Naval Officer Corps, 1794–1815, and of Sober Men and True: Sailor Lives in the Royal Navy, 1900–1945.  Now a scholar-in-residence at the Newberry Library (Chicago), McKee continues to research and write about the lives and experiences of individuals serving in naval forces.   


More by this Author

Ungentle Goodnights
Ungentle Goodnights uses the records of the United States Naval Asylum (later the United States...Read More

Related Content

None found for this author.

Events and Conferences

None found for this author.

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Reviews


Conferences and Events

WEST 2019

Wed, 2019-02-13 - Fri, 2019-02-15

Sharpening the Competitive Edge: Are We Ready to Compete, Deter, and Win Globally? Wednesday, 13 February - Friday, 15 February...

2019 U.S. Naval Institute Member Event

View All

From the Press

23 January - Book Talk

Wed, 2019-01-23

9 February - Presentation

Sat, 2019-02-09

Why Become a Member of the U.S. Naval Institute?

As an independent forum for over 140 years, the Naval Institute has been nurturing creative thinkers who responsibly raise their voices on matters relating to national defense.

Become a Member Renew Membership