You don't need to be a history or nautical buff to truly enjoy the fascinating characters in this historical novel. The author has written the dialogue in such a way as to make the reader feel a part of the conversation; part of the scene. It would be as if they were standing right next to John Paul Jones as he got down to the real issue, which is trying to figure how he's going to win the battle aboard the sinking Bon Homme Richard; with rotten oaken sides and holds that are filling with sea water. While at the same time, the HMS Serapis, commanded by Captain Pearson, is ready to finish him off and strip him of his ship and crew.
The astonishing life of John Paul Jones has been forgotten through the ages. He is but a footnote; seldom mentioned as a respectable peer among the honored land generals of the Revolutionary War.
Maybe this story will help enlighten a few grey cells among the citizens of the USA. Just maybe they will welcome this extraordinary historical character into that inner circle of supreme and brave men who fought so diligently during the American Revolutionary War.
This was like no other novel that I had ever attempted.
Here is our hero, John Paul Jones, and a wonderful collection of men and women. I see these human beings as they lived; not as historians would like to pretend they had lived.
Historians tend to choose a significant event and examine its causes and consequences. They study and replay decisive battles to see if they could conceivably have been won by the losing side. Or they find a historical character and dissect every facial feature over and over again.
Yet history is not a true palindrome. We can't really run it backwards and end up with a clean start. Too many of the pieces are lost; also we are already aware of the outcome.
There is an element of sheer mischief in history, I believe. You have wicked joy and outrageousness for its own sake. But none of the historians ever mention it; this quality of hide-and-seek. They want the past to be serious; sometimes too serious.
I'm not a learned historian with umpteen letters after my name, but I do crave history and I do admire John Paul Jones. What you read here is real history, the people and the events are true and the facts are reasonably correct. I, as a writer, tried to turn Jones into a living breathing person with senses, feelings, desires, anger, love, and pain; not just a stoic marble statue staring straight through you.
I could never actually be there with John Paul Jones as he got down to the real issue, which is trying to figure how he's going to win the battle aboard a ship with rotten oaken sides held together by oakum fibers soaked in pitch and holds that are filling with sea water. While at the same time; the enemy is ready to finish him off and strip him of his ship and crew. I could never join in those moments of supreme exaltation or supreme grief. My re-creations are at best just my imagination churning through scenes in order to portray a story for the reader's edification and pleasure.
The thing about historians and novelists is that there are always replacements. But there is only one John Paul Jones scavenging the sea for the next British ship-of-war.
When I viewed the material of the characters' wonderful lives, I found laughter, honesty, meanness, love, kindness, jealousy, vanity, foolishness, egomania, bravery, and deceit. Just about all the human traits that make up the centrifugal force that seems to hold the cosmopolitan of the human race together as a mass on our little planet, Earth.
They walked this Earth during a very different time period. These were brave men fighting a war to give birth to a new nation: The United States of America.
Many have been forgotten through the ages. John Paul Jones is but a footnote and many times seldom mentioned as a respectable peer along with the honored land generals of the Revolutionary War. Maybe this novel will help enlighten a few grey cells among the citizens of my country and just maybe they will carry their relationships with John Paul Jones, like a turtle shell throughout their lives. Then maybe someday this heroic man will be honored properly along with the other notable historical figures of the United States.
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For clarification, Jones did meet Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France, several times. I expounded upon their meetings but I did adjust the dates a bit. I apologize to the French people, but I have found them to be such kind and understanding people that I'm sure they will forgive me. Only those that are sticklers for dates will go into a tizzy. So be it.
Here is my compromise of the two. R.L.S.
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