Click a button on your computer screen today and in a couple of days, a smartphone arrives from China. But back in the 19th century, global trade wasn’t so easy. A handful of robber barons controlled much of the high-seas trade entering the United States. Barons of the Sea describes the cutthroat businessmen who built the fastest, finest, most profitable clipper ships. The cast of characters includes visionaries, eccentric shipbuilders, debonair captains and socially ambitious merchants with names like Forbes and Delano. It’s a story of innovation and invention that reveals the making of some of America’s richest fortunes. ($30, Simon & Schuster)
Coming Of Age Adventure
Jamie McGee lives in a fishing village atop the rock-peppered shores of a remote northern island. He’s setting out on his first trip aboard his father’s commercial boat to tumultuous but productive fishing grounds.
Summerbank: The Adventures of Jamie McGee is Steve Jones’ fictional, illustrated paperback about a young man (and his faithful dog) learning to be a professional fisherman. Written for readers from 9 to 12 years of age, it has more than 40 illustrations, including images of treacherous storms and Jamie’s quiet moments in a ship’s galley warmed by lantern. Each illustration gives Summerbank the feel of a true adventure story. ($18, Rusty Nail Press)
Water Monsters and Ships
From hand-built canoes to 700-foot ships, if there’s a vessel that’s plied the Great Lakes, there’s a good chance you can read about it in Victoria Brehm’s White Squall: Sailing The Great Lakes. The stories are written in the words of the men and women who lived aboard these unique vessels, including Native American watercraft, sailing ships, steamers, lakers and others. You’ll also learn about a Native American water monster that conjures ship-killing storms. The book is illustrated with drawings and photos. ($30, Lady-slipper Press)
This article originally appeared in the November 2018 issue.