FIGHTING SAILOR: The Story of Nathaniel Fanning by Ralph Edgar Bailey

FIGHTING SAILOR: The Story of Nathaniel Fanning

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In the field of juvenile biography where soundly researched, balanced treatments are still rare, Ralph Bailey gained attention for last year's Indian Fighter, The Story of Nelson A. Miles. Nathaniel Fanning is another little-known figure and this is both a rousing adventure of war at sea and a first-hand recollection based on Fanning's journals. Years of sailing behind him, dreams of prize money before him, Fanning, at twenty-three, took a berth on an American privateer which was captured almost immediately. After an uncomfortable year in an English naval prison, he was freed and approached John Paul Jones, then a hero in France, and gained the post of midshipman. Jones is vividly characterized as a cocky little dandy with dynamic enthusiasm. Fanning contributed to the daring success of the Bonhomme Richard in the victory over the British Serapis, but soon found Jones' behavior intolerable, and decided not to sail to America with him. His eye was on an independent command which he shortly achieved. On the Eclipse, he captured fifty-two enemy ships in a privateering career lasting scarcely more than a year and became greatly feared by the British. During this time, he was also entrusted with carrying ""some proposals of peace"" to the government in London as the war drew to a close. When it does, ending Fanning's career as a privateer, the story ends too although there is a brief view of what followed. As an individual, Fanning shared the traits of ambition and boldness common to American fighting sailors, and the author claims no more for him. This has impact as true adventure and history behind-the-scenes rather than as biography, but impact it has.

Pub Date: Oct. 5th, 1966
Publisher: Morrow