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Publisher's Summary

Two Years Before the Mast is an American classic published in 1840. This is the account of Richard Henry Dana’s two-year adventure as a sailor. Throughout his time sailing around Cape Horn on the brig Pilgrim, Dana kept a diary, and on his return to Massachusetts, he wrote this now-loved classic.

While attending Harvard College, Dana was stricken with measles, which would ultimately have a detrimental effect on his eyesight. Instead of going on a Grand Tour of Europe as most young men did in that era, he decided to work as a sailor, believing the open sea would be good for his health. Born in 1815, Richard Henry Dana was an American lawyer and politician who would become best known for being a champion of the common man.

Public Domain (P)2017 A.R.N. Publications

What listeners say about Two Years Before the Mast

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    4 out of 5 stars

Awful Narration

It flabbergasts me that someone would attempt to narrate a sailing novel and not even conduct the slightest research into the sailing lexicon. The constant references to 'fore-castle', 'coxswain' and, Lord help us, 'gun-whale' would have the author turning in his grave. It is also clear that by the pace in which this version is read, the narrator had somewhere important to go after he was done. Disappointing.

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  • scott m
  • 12-03-2019

Brilliant

A true classic. Brilliantly written. There were a couple choices of this book, I’m glad I picked this one. The narrator was fantastic, at one point, I was on the boat , fighting bad weather as we braved our way through the ocean, trying not to hit icebergs. This was truly a time when men were men.

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  • Lynn
  • 09-08-2018

About the narration

Fine narration except that many technical terms (about the ship and boats, predominantly) are pronounced as spelled and not as normally pronounced. If you are at all familiar with their usual use, this may grate on your ear. Otherwise a thoroughly good narration and a story that remains as interesting now as it was when written about 200 years ago!

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  • Hockey Guy
  • 24-11-2020

Great story

Intriguing story, detailed and realistic. Ending was abrupt but satisfying. If you have interest in history, sailing or the lives of our ancestors this will be an enjoyable listen. Great narration.

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  • Rico
  • 30-10-2020

Must read for any sailor and Californians

An accurate journal of a Harvard student, sailing 2 years as a sailor, around cape Horn, to California and back, in 1835-1836. Describing the life at sea and on shore for him self and of those whom he encounters. The Post Scriptum of ~1860 describes the contrast of only 24 years later, and the PPS by the authors son, in 1911 elaborates even further. I could listen all day to the voice of the narrator. Excellent job, thank you só much! Best regards; from my little sailboat in the Netherlands, under a cold autumn sky. Yours sincerely, Rico van Dijk Sv.Iona

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 26-12-2019

Racist and dated and delightful

Read it with an awareness of the ignorance of the age. Be offended and angry about the injustice it upholds and celebrate and be grateful for what it had to teach you.

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  • GP914
  • 30-01-2019

Fantastic first person adventure.

Fascinating historical account! Dana's journey at sea stands in stark contrast to life as we currently live. Really hung on each word. Better than any fiction I've read!

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  • Robin in Alaska
  • 16-01-2019

Sheer Boredom

I love reading and listening to books about sailing, exploring, whaling, storm wrecks and mis-adventure from this era (1800's). I was looking forward to this book, however it totally lacks any real sense of purpose or interest. It is quite frankly a simple diary with no "high" or "low" points to be discovered. I was deeply disappointed and after several hours of listening finally gave up.

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  • Damian
  • 04-10-2018

Not exactly a page turner

One can still see why this is a classic and still deserving of study and reflection. The lot of the sailor truly was truly terrible and worth the prize of the book alone was the amazing revelation that in 1896 the Supreme Court of the United States – the 13th amendment abolishing slavery not withstanding – continued to hold the contracts of sailors sacrosanct to the point of involuntary servitude. Dana’s writing His sharp and elegant and although the anecdotes of his seafaring career are not scintillating, The view from his historical window reveals a most interesting and worthwhile panorama.

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