Monday, February 7, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: Hero of the high seas: John Paul Jones and the American Revolution by Michael Cooper

I'm continuing my somewhat pointless quest for good biographies for our juvenile biography section. Pointless, since I don't have any money to revamp the section...and I've planned to do sports and maybe technology this year and then the crafts section, and biographies is so far out that it's misty. Still, it never hurts to be prepared.

This biography of John Paul Jones comes from National Geographic's series of juvenile biographies. It fulfills my basic requirements, being a little over 100 pages long and having further information, a timeline, and an index in the back.

However, the text itself was rather disappointing. Admittedly, there's not much to go on - Jones' life is rather sketchy and most of the original documents pertaining to him seem to be his spate of letters trying to get promotion, better ships, etc. and complaining about all the people who didn't recognize his genius and ability.

While the biography covers the basics - his early life, the rather confused events which led to his becoming a wanted man and changing his name, and his influence and courage fighting for America, the tone of the narrative somehow feels both pretentious and patronizing. Or maybe I was just in a bad mood that day.

The biography was mostly interesting, there was plenty of sailing detail (but not so much that it bogged down) and John Paul Jones is an unusual character, but the story felt more about generalities of war and history than Jones himself.

Verdict: If you have kids interested in sailing or history, or a real dearth of Colonial history biographies, you might want to add this. It just didn't appeal to me, but most other reviewers seem to have liked it.

ISBN:978-0792255475; Published September 2006 by National Geographic: Borrowed from the library.

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