For those of us addicted (Vic's fault) to 19th century naval fiction, but having run out (several times over) of the fix–Aubry/Maturin, Bolitho, Hornblower, I'd like to recommend Herman Melvilles White Jacket. I listened to it on Librovox, which is another recommendation for public domain free audio books.

This is the blurb from Librivox on "White Jacket":

This is a tale based on Melville's experiences aboard the USS United States from 1843 to 1844. It comments on the harsh and brutal realities of service in the US Navy at that time, but beyond this the narrator has created for the reader graphic symbols for class distinction, segregation and slavery aboard this microcosm of the world, the USS Neversink. (Introduction by James K. White).


For me flogging, though graphic and clearly political, is not what makes the book so interesting. It's interesting because the viewpoint is truly from the lower deck, and it's written with Melville's incredible gift for humor and description.Those of us, who like me, have read the term "selvagee" many times, but really didn't understand what it was, will find this book a wealth of descriptions for the running of a 19th century wooden fighting ship.


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