This narrative, based apparently upon a first-person draft dictated to an itinerant evangelist in 1885 when its subject was 79, tells the life story of a big, brawny Nova Scotian turned Yankee, James Pattillo. Beginning with an abbreviated biography of ""the strangthy Highlander"" who was his father, the book captures ""Big Jim"" and the flavor of his times very well. The first half is packed with epic drinking bouts and fierce fist- fights, but then our hero gets religion and goes in for the temperance movement in an almost equally fierce way, so that from the middle onward the reader will have to be satisfied with prodigies performed in the course of battling the elements in the fishing grounds off New England and Canada. History was not the author's intent, but a sense of two young countries coming into adolescence and the first stages of manhood is very much a part of it all. Peripheral insight into local and national politics, as they appeared to an uneducated man of the 19th century, are interesting, if nothing more. And Mr. Pattillo is worth having met.