Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana

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"Two Years Before the Mast" can seem almost as much of a slog as hauling cowhides around, but it is a rewarding experience.
-Guys Lit Wire


"Two Years Before the Mast" is the true story of Richard Henry Dana's voyage aboard the "Pilgrim" on a trip around Cape Horn during the years 1834 to 1836. Intended as an account of "the life of a common sailor at sea as it really is", "Two Years Before the Mast" details a voyage from Boston to San Francisco to trade goods from the east for cow hides. "Two Years Before the Mast" is a classic depiction of maritime life in the 19th century. Included in this edition is the appendix, "Twenty-Four Years After" written and added by the author in 1869.

About Richard Henry Dana

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Dana's reputation rests solely upon a single book. Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Dana was the son of the elder Richard Henry Dana, a minor New England poet and a founder of the North American Review. He received a fairly conventional early education in the Boston area and entered Harvard College in 1831. Health and eye problems interrupted his studies several times, and finally, in hopes of regaining his strength, Dana shipped out on the sailing vessel The Pilgrim in 1834 as a common sailor. He remained at sea for two years, much of that time gathering hides off the California coast, which was still under Mexican rule. From these experiences he soon produced his great masterpiece, Two Years Before the Mast (1840). Upon his return to Boston, Dana completed his studies at Harvard and was admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 1840, the same year he completed Two Years Before the Mast. Because of his experiences and his passionate commitment to the rights of the common sailor, he specialized in maritime law, soon earning himself the nickname, "the sailors' lawyer." His work on behalf of sailors in both the courts and the popular press led to important reforms in the conditions of their lives and the terms of their employment. Active also in the still unpopular cause of abolition, Dana alienated himself from the rich and powerful, those proper Bostonians who controlled so much of the world to which Dana was drawn by his political ambitions.
Published March 30, 2004 by 238 pages
Genres: Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math, Biographies & Memoirs, History, Sports & Outdoors, Travel, Professional & Technical, Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference, Children's Books, Crafts, Hobbies & Home, Action & Adventure, War, Political & Social Sciences, Religion & Spirituality, Cooking, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Comics & Graphic Novels. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Two Years Before the Mast
All: 2 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 0

Time Out New York

Above average

There are no star turns or glamorous set pieces, no sea battles and very little 'action' as such, but it's an engrossing mix of formula/genre/humanism.

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Guys Lit Wire

Above average
on Aug 25 2010

"Two Years Before the Mast" can seem almost as much of a slog as hauling cowhides around, but it is a rewarding experience.

Read Full Review of Two Years Before the Mast

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