THE SEA PANTHER by Philip Vail


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The title refers to Commodore William Bainbridge, one of the ""forgotten men"" of American history. An intrepid sailor he certainly was, but intrepid is hardly the word for Mr. Vail's portrait of him--he emerges as Superman dressed in linsey-woolsey. And his wife comes out just another of those Yerby-esque heroines with ""high, firm breasts"". The period covered is the early portion of Bainbridge's career, 1797-1812, from just before he joined the infant U.S. Navy, through the war with Tripoli, concluding with his first great exploits as commander of the U.S.S. Constitution. There is plenty of action and jingoistic heroism, but no characterization or ""historic"" feeling to speak of. The best thing to be said about the style is that it gallops right along. One might wish the sea fights were fewer in number and more memorably described. Mr. Vail was not trying for a ""biography-told-as-fiction,"" only a novel. One might also wish he had a loftier opinion of his chosen subject.

Publisher: Dodd, Mead