An absorbing and comprehensive study of a sea captain and place largely forgotten by history.

The Lost Hero of Cape Cod


An old seafaring world comes to life in this examination of the coastal trade of the mid-1800s.

Capt. Asa Eldridge gazes phlegmatically from the frontispiece of this debut biography by Miles (Boys of the Cloth, 2012). Before the author began researching Eldridge’s career, the old seafarer’s name existed only as a morsel of trivia. In 1854, Eldridge crossed the Atlantic by sail, leaving from New York and arriving in Liverpool 13 days later, establishing a speed record that’s yet to be broken. It would be sufficient if Miles contented himself with telling the story of that single feat, but he’s done far more than that in this thorough yarn. Eldridge was born at the dawn of the 19th century in the town of Yarmouth, Massachusetts, to a family that had been on Cape Cod for 200 years, quite a few of them spent seafaring. Coastal trade among Colonies (and, later, states) proved to be an occupation both profitable and adventuresome. It also taught seamen how to sail very fast: “Customers may not have cared too much about an hour either way on the voyage time, but rival captains most certainly did—especially on those frequent occasions when they decided to turn the coastal run into a race.” Eldridge learned to rig a sail and make seconds count under the tutelage of his uncle and, later, as a captain in his own right, helming ships all the way to India, Russia, and, in pre–Panama Canal days, San Francisco. Miles expertly describes the life of a sea captain in Eldridge’s day, calling his subject a thoughtful and spirited leader “capable of cajoling the thuggish deckhands into giving of their best.” Later, Eldridge became a steamship entrepreneur, redesigning the provisions on his vessels out of “humanitarian interest in improving the lot of those emigrants who could only afford passage in the steerage” and at one point helming a ship for Cornelius Vanderbilt. Readers already curious about the trans-Atlantic trade, the early days of steam shipping, and all that rigging and hauling should learn a lot from this deeply researched book.

An absorbing and comprehensive study of a sea captain and place largely forgotten by history. 

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9625068-8-8

Page Count: 198

Publisher: Historical Society of Old Yarmouth

Review Posted Online: June 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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