A giant picaresque romance with an emblematic hero like Anthony Adverse, this is the story of a young Maine law student who goes to sea as a privateer during the War of 1812. Based loosely on the career of a real person, the story device of privateering carries Jonathan from Maine to Charleston, Paris, Spain and Africa, both as a man on a vital government mission and as a captive, slave and pawn of others. Throughout, Jonathan never loses his eager naivete, and in fact grows not a whit in character. Surrounding him at various times are his best friend, Brad Pettigrew, the ideal India Mitchell whom he never quite attains, the scoundrel William Bierce who has sold out to the enemy but has first claim on India's hand, the horrible Captain Jake Rudd, and a giant Jamaican Negro Philip Adair whose wife was killed by Rudd. Perhaps in keeping with New England puritanism, the story is antiseptically sexless and there is none of the bouffant romance and idle seduction normal to this genre. Jonathan Dearborn is the eager youth in defense of his country's virtues, although politically he is somewhat split between Republicanism and Federalism. He's a minister's son to boot, who never smokes around the house because it would offend his parents... The war background is interesting but this is a dull story hung on a wooden peg. The scenes at sea lack any of the redolent veracity of life and the places visited seldom seem lived in.