Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Hero of the High Seas: John Paul Jones and the American Revolution

Hero of the High Seas: John Paul Jones and the American Revolution

Michael L. Cooper
For ages 10 to 12
National Geographic, 2006   ISBN: 978-0792255475

John Paul was born in Scotland, the son of a gardener. Through hard work and a powerful ambition to do well for himself, John rose quickly to the rank of captain in the British Royal Navy. Unfortunately for John, troubles seem to dog his career. In 1773 John was captain of a ship carrying cargo to the British colony of Tobago. During an attempted mutiny on board John killed one of the crew. Knowing that he would not get a fair trial on Tobago, John chose instead to flee.

John decided to make America his new home. It was a turbulent time in the British colony and being the kind of man who took full advantage of a situation when the opportunity presented itself; John offered his services to the American "rebels." John asked his friends to help him and before long he was given a commission in the fledging American Navy.

John was not an easy person to get on with. He often fought with the authorities and with his fellow officers. He was an ambitious man who more than anything wanted to be given the tools he needed to prove himself. He wanted to go to battle, he wanted to show his new homeland that he was an asset; when his efforts were frustrated he grew angry and critical. Nevertheless, though John was not always able to carry out the plans he made, he still fought bravely for his adoptive country taking prizes, sinking enemy ships, and earning the respect of both the English (the enemy) and the French (the ally).

In this well written biography the author succeeds in showing his readers what kind of a man John Paul Jones really was. Though his accomplishments may seem modest to modern eye, John was a hero in his own time and his achievements were still considerable. Most interesting of all is the way in which the author shows us what John was like on the inside. Frequently quoting from the man?s writings, the author paints a portrait of an energetic, courageous, and often very clever man who wanted more than anything to be judged for his merits and not for his background.