Barons of the Sea MOBI ½ Barons of PDF/EPUB or

Barons of the Sea MOBI ½ Barons of PDF/EPUB or


10 thoughts on “Barons of the Sea

  1. Daniel Ligon Daniel Ligon says:

    I'm always a bit cautious when a little known author is compared to a well known one Just because a publisher says that Steven Ujifusa writes like David McCullough or Ron Chernow two of my favorite authors doesn't make it so In this case however the comparison is not a stretch Ujifusa is an excellent writer and he picked a fascinating subject His story covers not just the design building and races of the clipper ships but their purpose Much of the book is devoted to a historical examination of the China trade in the mid 1800's along with the colorful characters who made and lost fortunes in that trade You may not be particularly interested in ships or sailing I'm not but if you like well written history the odds are good that you'll enjoy Barons of the SeaI received a digital copy of this book for free from the publisher and was not reuired to write a positive review


  2. Joshua Rigsby Joshua Rigsby says:

    I have read many books about clipper ships and the age of sail This one is possibly the best Ujifusa is both comprehensive in his treatment of the clipper trade and intentionally focused on the prominent east coast families who helped found it Famous names get bandied about like Forbes and Delano and it uickly becomes apparent just how important these ships and the companies that built them were to American progress in the mid 19th century Barons of the Sea portrays the inflection point of US involvement in international trade It threads the routes between the Opium Wars China the United States the California gold rush and Australia with steady vigilance Unlike other writers of historical nonfiction this author is not afraid of accessibility He goes to great pains and in fact appears to relish in the perceived historical details of the characters he describes What results is a very readable book about a fascinating portion of American maritime history I recommend it


  3. Charles Charles says:

    A snapshot of the politics economics familial dynasties and technologies involving international and domestic seaborne commerce in the early history of the American Republic and ending shortly after the American Civil WarMy dead tree copy was a moderate 450 pages It had a 2018 US copyright Steven Ujifusa is an American naval historian and author of non fiction He’s written two 2 books This is the first book I’ve read by the authorThis book attempts to describe some of the forces affecting the history of the early days of the American Republic The story is anchored on the development of The Clipper Ship Clippers especially the high performance 'Extreme Clippers' were a uniuely American transportation technology developed to support American international and later domestic commerce of the period The closest modern comparison between clipper ship transportation and commerce with today may be with the civilian supersonic aircraft It was an advanced technology that was eventually Betamaxed by wide body aircraft In a similar way clipper ships were superseded by steamships However I felt the important story was the drugs money and insider dealings of the China trading clipper ships owners who founded several wealthy American dynasties whose names are still recognizable today This book will be of value to folks who have an interest in naval history particularly the history of American merchant shipping in the late 18th Century and into the mid 19th Century This was the period before the great American continental domestic economy opened The anecdotes on merchant sailing businesses and family life added colour to the narrative However a firm understanding of international history of the period and a nautical vocabulary would be very helpful in reading this book For example It was changes in British the world major power mercantile law and diplomacy that truly opened The China Trade In addition I thought the book’s Appendix on sailing ship construction and operation to be too brief to be useful to a novice In general I felt the author was only partially successful in keeping the many dimensions of the narrative clear For example the wooden ships construction and operation tech of the Clippers was uiet complicated The genealogies and machinations of the ship owning American China Traders who founded dynasties and the shipwrights who built extreme clippers was likewise complicated in a different fashion And finally I thought that some opportunities were lost For example the point that the The China Trade has always been a source of American wealth he never identifies the developing international commerce as a form of tech in the narrative nor did he draw any parallels with contemporary technologies and American interests The author allowed his story to grow too large for his book It ended up somewhat muddled However this book would be an useful adjunct to someone interested in American mercantile naval and social history in the 50 years before the Civil War Readers looking in books somewhat related to modern American merchant shipping and commerce might want to read Looking for a Ship or The Box How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger In addition I'd recommend Imperial Twilight The Opium War and the End of China's Last Golden Age as background reading on the important China Trade for this book


  4. David V. David V. says:

    Received as an ARC from the publisher Started 4 18 18 Finished 4 25 18 A well documented over 40 pages of notes book about the Clipper ship era in the US during the second half of the 1800's This was a period of history that I knew very little about but it was fascinating The competition between ship designers and builders to be the fastest from the East coast to England; to China; then to Japan; then to the gold fields near San Francisco The opium traffic to China; the less than honorable actions of Commander Matthew Perry in the opening of Japan to Western traders The effect of the Civil War on shipbuilding and the conflict between ship safety and profit making Good sea captains and tyrannical ones; ualified crews vs the dregs of the wharves who get shanghaied into servitude The multi millionaires and their philanthropy' much of it still existing to this day


  5. Dale Dewitt Dale Dewitt says:

    What an amazing read It gives such a great picture of the shipping barons and the lengths they would go to in order to be the fastest delivery agents in order to make their fortune These were all self made men who's families would turn into dynasties


  6. Randal White Randal White says:

    Very interesting history of the clipper ship era and the competition between merchants to have the fastest vessels to deliver goods first It's an area that I knew very little about


  7. Cindy Vallar Cindy Vallar says:

    These were our Gothic cathedrals our Parthenon; but monuments carved from snow For a few brief years they flashed their splendor around the world then disappeared with the finality of the wild pigeonThis uote from Samuel Eliot Morison opens the final chapter in this account of merchants ships and shipwrights of the nineteenth century in their uest for speed and profits 339 Their designs were based on the “Balti clipper” like Isaac McKim’s Ann McKim 1833 but with less drag less rake speed and elegance and grace They initially sailed to China to trade for tea porcelain silks and spices Later they ventured around the tip of South America to deliver goods to California after gold was discovered in 1848 Making money and delivering cargo faster than anyone else were these men’s primary objectives In the process they revolutionized global trade transformed a remote outpost into a burgeoning region and aided in the spread of opiumFirst and foremost this is a story about merchants like Warren Delano II John Murray and Robert Bennet Forbes and Abiel Abbot Low They acuired assets that allowed them to deal in exports and imports They owned the ships and oftentimes the cargoes they carried They hired shipwrights like Donald McKay and John Willis Griffiths to build their ships as well as those vessels’ captains Charles Porter Low Nathaniel Palmer and Joshua Creesy to name a fewIt is also a story about the places and cultures to which their ships sailed Initially China was an insular country the government unwilling to trade with Westerners until Jorge Alvares visited Canton in 1513 By the mid 1800s merchants from many European countries and the United States were purchasing Chinese goods Warren Delano II belonged to a good established family but he lacked money When he ventured to China in 1833 as a young bachelor he had two goals he wished to achieve He wanted to acuire enough funds to make him independently wealthy – 100000 that would reuire living in China for at least five years – and to become a member of the prestigious firm of Russell Company What he soon realized was that living in China was very different from living in America and it could uite dangerous for foreigners He wasn’t permitted to learn Chinese He had to operate according to many strict dictates He had to live in a section of Canton in a compound allotted to those who brokered goods for export Wives of these men if they came had to live in Macao as they were never permitted on the mainland One Chinese merchant headed the Cohong a guild of traders and was personally responsible for the foreign merchants Wu Ping Chien whom Westerners called Houua mentored some of these foreigners including Delano While the Chinese had much to offer in the way of exports Westerners had little to offer in return except money and opium The illegal importation of this addictive drug led to a shortfall of silver in China and many became addicts unwilling to work Eventually the government intervened and Houua was arrested While the Americans tacitly acuiesced to China’s demands the British did not and the First Opium War soon eruptedAside from the cultural and personal aspects of this account of the “barons of the sea” this book is also a tale of the ships The sooner merchant ships returned home to New York or Boston the sooner the tea could be auctioned This not only led to greater profits but also increased a firm’s reputation This is why men like Delano and Low sought ships with greater speed and cargo capacity For example when Oriental arrived in London in 1850 – the first Yankee clipper to do so – she did so in 97 days a vast improvement from the usual six months which British ships normally took to go from China to London Her cargo sold for 48000 a vast sum when compared to the 10 12 an average working man earned in one monthPrior to this time period ship design had remained fairly stable for 200 years Ships that sailed to China and India were called “Indiamen” and a typical one averaged 175 feet in length 30 feet in width and possessed a deep draft and rounded topsides Beginning in the 1830s the shipwrights and merchants began to revolutionize the design to create Yankee clippers But the men who built these vessels didn’t agree on what designs were best Captain Nathaniel Palmer favored ships with sharp bows and flat bottoms that he believed would average 12 13 knots when laden with tea John Willis Griffiths who never went to sea designed vessels with V shaped bottoms because his draftsman’s mind believed this would make them faster One of his ships Sea Witch traveled 264 miles each day for ten days during a monsoon Her best single day’s distance was 302 milesThese Yankee clippers underwent even radical changes once the merchants turned their attention to the California trade Donald McKay’s designs and skill turned the building of such ships into an art Stag Hound built in 1850 for the California runs could carry 1500 tons of cargo and her sails consisted of 9500 suare yards of canvas She was the first of the extreme clippers But McKay went on to design even bigger ones Sovereign of the Seas’ tonnage exceeded 2400 and she measured 252 feet in length while the Great Republic as designed would carry 4555 tons and be longer than today’s football fieldMemnon one of Delano’s ships traveled 15000 miles from New York to San Francisco Bay in 123 days Until then the journey around Cape Horn often took over 200; covered wagons leaving Independence Missouri to go overland averaged six months It didn’t take long before the various merchants began competing with one another Their ships were “majestic clippers flying before the wind like great birds of prey their vast spreads of canvas stretchws taut their deep sharp bows piercing wave after wave” 6 In 1851 three clippers left New York bound for San Francisco Captain Charles Low commanded N B Palmer owned by the Lows and named for Captain Nathaniel Palmer on her maiden voyage Moses Grinnell’s Flying Cloud was captained by Josiah Creesy whose wife served as his navigator The third ship Challenge was owned by N G Griswold and cost over 150000 to build She had three decks instead of the normal two and her masts rose than 200 feet above the weather deck Her captain was Robert Waterman There could be only one winner and the race became one that involved rough weather major repairs at sea sabotage mutiny and ended with the arrest of one of the captains and his first mateAs with all things though the time for Yankee clippers ebbed Fewer men wanted to earn their livings at sea As California grew and developed her citizens became self sufficient and no longer had need for ships to bring them necessaries They could make or grow these items themselves and purchase them for far lower prices than the East Coast merchants charged Confederate raiders took their toll on Northern shipping during the Civil War Steam ships were becoming and plentiful Finally the sinking of SS Central America in 1857 proved fatal not only to the 420 male passengers and crew aboard but also to the American economy Lost during the hurricane was the nine tons of California gold and specie that she carried The loss valued at around 2000000 resulted in than just a run on banks Fewer and fewer ship owners could afford the beautiful graceful vessels that had brought great wealth to men who became pillars of nineteenth century American society and whose influence on our culture and politics lasted far into the next hundred yearsThese are the stories that Steven Ujifusa weaves together in his book He includes an inset of photographs an appendix with ship and sail diagrams a section of notes that double as a bibliography and an index He also defines unfamiliar terms at the bottom of the pages where the words occur Barons of the Sea is informative entertaining and enthralling It’s a voyage not to be missed whether you’re fascinated with sailing ships the tea trade or the gold rush or just history in general


  8. Marks54 Marks54 says:

    This book presents a history of sorts about the glory age of the Clipper Ship which developed under American ship designers and investors to service the needs for fast trade to China and later to California after the gold rush along with some additional routes The focus of the book is on this specific type of fast sailing ship although the focal unit in the story is variable There are the US investors and traders associated with the US China trade around the time of the Opium Wars between 1840 and 1860 Their names attest to the persistence of riches once achieved and include the Delano Forbes and Low families This is a fascinating line of the story since the Opium part of the China trade fueled the accumulation of wealth that placed these families suarely in the US elites but which these families vigorously sought to downplay when it came time to write family histories This is also about ship designers and the competition among them to build larger faster and profitable ships to make the long dangerous run around Cape Horn and either up to San Francisco or across the Pacific to ChinaThe story is also an economic story of the interaction of technology and commerce that produces a golden age for a type of vehicle or product that persists as long as its enabling conditions persist The Clipper Ships had limits to their construction and they became increasingly irrelevant as economic conditions in China changed as the California economy became self sufficient and less dependent on imports as steam engine technology improved and as the transcontinental railroads were extended For a few decades however the Clipper Ships were a source of great prestige and greater wealthWhile the book is a history book it reads like a volume of historical fiction such as Amitav Ghosh’s recent trilogy on the Opium Wars Family drama and tragedy intrigues and politics are woven into a series of interrelated family plot lines and which would make a fine miniseries The author is a professional historian and accomplished speaker although he is not university affiliated This is hopeful to me in showing how careers can develop through uality research good writing along with some capable promotion The time period and subject matter is not extensively covered in popular histories since US business and economics at the time was self contained and focused on the emergence of conflicts associated with the Civil War eventually or with the westward expansion In the history of American tycoons Astor gets covered uite a bit although those who followed him seem less well known even though everyone has heard of many of the familiesIt is a uick read and very well written It makes me want to go back and reread Melville and Dana


  9. Anne Morgan Anne Morgan says:

    Today people are fascinated by the Tall Ships when they come into a port people come from miles around to walk their decks and imagine what it might have been like to sail the open waters in these small to us wooden ships with their giant sails But it wasn't all that long ago that these ships ruled the waves Barons of the Sea tells the uniuely American story of the race to build bigger and faster clipper ships in search of money and fameThe first part of Barons sets the stage for the building race by giving the reader an intimate look at early 1800s shipping in China Confined to one port allowed to deal only with a few specific Chinese individuals British and American trading was a young bachelor's game building connections working hard playing hard Americans followed the British lead of smuggling opium into China then using the money from those sales to buy large shipments of goods like tea to bring back to New York or Boston and sell for often huge profits I had never read anything specific on the trade the attempts of the Chinese to stop the opium shipments or the Opium Wars that followed and was fascinated by the story Just as interesting was following the few young men Barons focuses on men who became some of the first millionaires in America With names like Low Aspinwall Forbes and Delano men whose children and grandchildren would build universities rule society and become politicians you may have heard of at least one Franklin Delano Roosevelt those stories all begin with the opium tradeThe close knit band of friends and rivals from China came back to America to build their families and send others back to China to increase the company fortunes But they recognized that the faster a shipment could reach America the money they would make So began the golden age of clipper ship building as each tried to break the speed records of the other adjusting ship designs to get as much speed as possible while still fitting large consignments of goods in the hulls When the gold rush sent thousands rushing to California these same men knew that whoever could get to San Fransisco fastest would earn the most money as basic goods in California were selling for five to ten times the price they were on the East CoastBarons fo the Sea is an interesting exploration of the 19th century trading and economic battles through the focus on a handful of leading men and their daring captains who attempted the dangerous voyages Those interested in maritime history 19th century America and early trading in China will especially appreciate the careful research and writing of this fascinating look into American historyI received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review


  10. Triumphal Reads Triumphal Reads says:

    I did receive a physical copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review Clipper ships are some of the most iconic and recognizable sailing ships that were ever built and Steven Ujifusa’s work Barons of the Sea And Their Race to Build the World’s Fastest Clipper Ship puts the spotlight directly on these magnificent vessels International and national American commerce on the high seas of the mid 19th century is explored alongside the wonder that clipper ships instilled in an awestruck population looking to prove itself against the rest of the world The up and coming American merchant dynasties who owned these ships are also covered and the author certainly does not shy away from some of the darker sides of making a profit during this era There were only a few noticeable downsides to the book First would be the slow introduction of actual clipper ships into the narrative The first uarter or so of the book deals largely with the economical context that the clipper ship era entered into in regards to international trade across the oceans The biographical backdrop of some of the prominent players most notably Warren Delano II grandfather to President Franklin Roosevelt was also told at this time While some setting is definitely needed it did feel like the clipper ships took uite a while to be actually introduced in the narrative The only other major aspect of the book that could have been fleshed out a little would be the stories of some of the other countries that also engaged in clipper ship trade While clipper ships were a largely American innovation other countries also tried their hands with the design This may have included British clippers that were only hinted at as well as the history of Dutch clippers That being said there are many highlights to to this work It may have taken some time for the clipper ships to enter into the story but once they do they take front and center stage and essentially become the main characters This creates a lively narrative centered on the ships rather than simply the tycoons that owned them When the world record is set for the fastest voyage from New York to San Francisco sailing around Cape Horn the reader is rooting and cheering for Flying Cloud rather than the ship’s captain Now these high speed records came at a price and the author reveals the grim realities of how this was sometimes accomplished Depending on the captain some crews could be worked mercilessly and crew deaths and mutinies were certainly not unheard of Another enjoyable aspect of the book is that the spotlight does get shown on some other lively characters of the clipper trade and not just the wealthy merchantmen Most notable include Donald McKay the eccentric Canadian born American clipper ship builder and designer who constructed many of the most notable clippers such as Flying Cloud and the largest clipper ever built Great Republic Another favorite is Nathaniel Palmer a rugged Antarctic explorer and clipper captain Overall Steven Ujifusa’s Barons of the Sea And Their Race to Build the World’s Fastest Clipper Ships is full of insight on the clipper ship era and is conveyed in an enjoyable narrative The clippers take the forefront of the story and demonstrate why they are the iconic ships of the Golden Age of Sail 45 out of 5 stars It was originally going to be 4 starts but the terrific diagrams and illustrations in the back of the book were uite helpful in understanding different parts and aspects of clipper ships and were highly appreciated


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Barons of the Sea [Reading] ➷ Barons of the Sea By Steven Ujifusa – Capitalsoftworks.co.uk “A fascinating fast paced historyfull of remarkable characters and incredible stories” about the nineteenth century American dynasties who battled for dominance of the tea and opium trades Nathani “A fascinating fast paced historyfull of remarkable characters and incredible stories” about the nineteenth century American dynasties who battled for dominance of the tea and opium trades Nathaniel Philbrick National Book Award–winning author of In the Heart of the SeaThere was a time back when Barons of PDF/EPUB or the United States was young and the robber barons were just starting to come into their own when fortunes were made and lost importing luxury goods from China It was a secretive glamorous often brutal business—one where teas and silks and porcelain were purchased with profits from the opium trade But the journey by sea to New York from Canton could take six agonizing months and so the most pressing technological challenge of the day became ensuring one’s goods arrived first to market so they might fetch the highest price “With the verse of a natural dramatist” The Christian Science Monitor Steven Ujifusa tells the story of a handful of cutthroat competitors who raced to build the fastest finest most profitable clipper ships to carry their precious cargo to American shores They were visionary eccentric shipbuilders debonair captains and socially ambitious merchants with names like Forbes and Delano—men whose business interests took them from the cloistered confines of China’s expatriate communities to the sin city decadence of Gold Rush era San Francisco and from the teeming hubbub of East Boston’s shipyards and to the lavish sitting rooms of New York’s Hudson Valley estates Elegantly written and meticulously researched Barons of the Sea is a riveting tale of innovation and ingenuity that “takes the reader on a rare and intoxicating journey back in time” Candice Millard bestselling author of Hero of the Empire drawing back the curtain on the making of some of the nation’s greatest fortunes and the rise and fall of an all American industry as sordid as it was genteel.

  • Hardcover
  • 448 pages
  • Barons of the Sea
  • Steven Ujifusa
  • 15 August 2016
  • 9781476745978

About the Author: Steven Ujifusa

Steven Ujifusa is an historian and a resident of Philadelphia Pennsylvania He has written numerous articles on architecture and urban history for PlanPhillycom and PhillyHistoryorg When he is not writing he enjoys singing photography rowing on the Schuylkill River and travel A native of New Barons of PDF/EPUB or York City and raised in Chappaua New York Steven received his undergraduate degree in history f.


10 thoughts on “Barons of the Sea

  1. Daniel Ligon Daniel Ligon says:

    I'm always a bit cautious when a little known author is compared to a well known one Just because a publisher says that Steven Ujifusa writes like David McCullough or Ron Chernow two of my favorite authors doesn't make it so In this case however the comparison is not a stretch Ujifusa is an excellent writer and he picked a fascinating subject His story covers not just the design building and races of the clipper ships but their purpose Much of the book is devoted to a historical examination of the China trade in the mid 1800's along with the colorful characters who made and lost fortunes in that trade You may not be particularly interested in ships or sailing I'm not but if you like well written history the odds are good that you'll enjoy Barons of the SeaI received a digital copy of this book for free from the publisher and was not reuired to write a positive review

  2. Joshua Rigsby Joshua Rigsby says:

    I have read many books about clipper ships and the age of sail This one is possibly the best Ujifusa is both comprehensive in his treatment of the clipper trade and intentionally focused on the prominent east coast families who helped found it Famous names get bandied about like Forbes and Delano and it uickly becomes apparent just how important these ships and the companies that built them were to American progress in the mid 19th century Barons of the Sea portrays the inflection point of US involvement in international trade It threads the routes between the Opium Wars China the United States the California gold rush and Australia with steady vigilance Unlike other writers of historical nonfiction this author is not afraid of accessibility He goes to great pains and in fact appears to relish in the perceived historical details of the characters he describes What results is a very readable book about a fascinating portion of American maritime history I recommend it

  3. Charles Charles says:

    A snapshot of the politics economics familial dynasties and technologies involving international and domestic seaborne commerce in the early history of the American Republic and ending shortly after the American Civil WarMy dead tree copy was a moderate 450 pages It had a 2018 US copyright Steven Ujifusa is an American naval historian and author of non fiction He’s written two 2 books This is the first book I’ve read by the authorThis book attempts to describe some of the forces affecting the history of the early days of the American Republic The story is anchored on the development of The Clipper Ship Clippers especially the high performance 'Extreme Clippers' were a uniuely American transportation technology developed to support American international and later domestic commerce of the period The closest modern comparison between clipper ship transportation and commerce with today may be with the civilian supersonic aircraft It was an advanced technology that was eventually Betamaxed by wide body aircraft In a similar way clipper ships were superseded by steamships However I felt the important story was the drugs money and insider dealings of the China trading clipper ships owners who founded several wealthy American dynasties whose names are still recognizable today This book will be of value to folks who have an interest in naval history particularly the history of American merchant shipping in the late 18th Century and into the mid 19th Century This was the period before the great American continental domestic economy opened The anecdotes on merchant sailing businesses and family life added colour to the narrative However a firm understanding of international history of the period and a nautical vocabulary would be very helpful in reading this book For example It was changes in British the world major power mercantile law and diplomacy that truly opened The China Trade In addition I thought the book’s Appendix on sailing ship construction and operation to be too brief to be useful to a novice In general I felt the author was only partially successful in keeping the many dimensions of the narrative clear For example the wooden ships construction and operation tech of the Clippers was uiet complicated The genealogies and machinations of the ship owning American China Traders who founded dynasties and the shipwrights who built extreme clippers was likewise complicated in a different fashion And finally I thought that some opportunities were lost For example the point that the The China Trade has always been a source of American wealth he never identifies the developing international commerce as a form of tech in the narrative nor did he draw any parallels with contemporary technologies and American interests The author allowed his story to grow too large for his book It ended up somewhat muddled However this book would be an useful adjunct to someone interested in American mercantile naval and social history in the 50 years before the Civil War Readers looking in books somewhat related to modern American merchant shipping and commerce might want to read Looking for a Ship or The Box How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger In addition I'd recommend Imperial Twilight The Opium War and the End of China's Last Golden Age as background reading on the important China Trade for this book

  4. David V. David V. says:

    Received as an ARC from the publisher Started 4 18 18 Finished 4 25 18 A well documented over 40 pages of notes book about the Clipper ship era in the US during the second half of the 1800's This was a period of history that I knew very little about but it was fascinating The competition between ship designers and builders to be the fastest from the East coast to England; to China; then to Japan; then to the gold fields near San Francisco The opium traffic to China; the less than honorable actions of Commander Matthew Perry in the opening of Japan to Western traders The effect of the Civil War on shipbuilding and the conflict between ship safety and profit making Good sea captains and tyrannical ones; ualified crews vs the dregs of the wharves who get shanghaied into servitude The multi millionaires and their philanthropy' much of it still existing to this day

  5. Dale Dewitt Dale Dewitt says:

    What an amazing read It gives such a great picture of the shipping barons and the lengths they would go to in order to be the fastest delivery agents in order to make their fortune These were all self made men who's families would turn into dynasties

  6. Randal White Randal White says:

    Very interesting history of the clipper ship era and the competition between merchants to have the fastest vessels to deliver goods first It's an area that I knew very little about

  7. Cindy Vallar Cindy Vallar says:

    These were our Gothic cathedrals our Parthenon; but monuments carved from snow For a few brief years they flashed their splendor around the world then disappeared with the finality of the wild pigeonThis uote from Samuel Eliot Morison opens the final chapter in this account of merchants ships and shipwrights of the nineteenth century in their uest for speed and profits 339 Their designs were based on the “Balti clipper” like Isaac McKim’s Ann McKim 1833 but with less drag less rake speed and elegance and grace They initially sailed to China to trade for tea porcelain silks and spices Later they ventured around the tip of South America to deliver goods to California after gold was discovered in 1848 Making money and delivering cargo faster than anyone else were these men’s primary objectives In the process they revolutionized global trade transformed a remote outpost into a burgeoning region and aided in the spread of opiumFirst and foremost this is a story about merchants like Warren Delano II John Murray and Robert Bennet Forbes and Abiel Abbot Low They acuired assets that allowed them to deal in exports and imports They owned the ships and oftentimes the cargoes they carried They hired shipwrights like Donald McKay and John Willis Griffiths to build their ships as well as those vessels’ captains Charles Porter Low Nathaniel Palmer and Joshua Creesy to name a fewIt is also a story about the places and cultures to which their ships sailed Initially China was an insular country the government unwilling to trade with Westerners until Jorge Alvares visited Canton in 1513 By the mid 1800s merchants from many European countries and the United States were purchasing Chinese goods Warren Delano II belonged to a good established family but he lacked money When he ventured to China in 1833 as a young bachelor he had two goals he wished to achieve He wanted to acuire enough funds to make him independently wealthy – 100000 that would reuire living in China for at least five years – and to become a member of the prestigious firm of Russell Company What he soon realized was that living in China was very different from living in America and it could uite dangerous for foreigners He wasn’t permitted to learn Chinese He had to operate according to many strict dictates He had to live in a section of Canton in a compound allotted to those who brokered goods for export Wives of these men if they came had to live in Macao as they were never permitted on the mainland One Chinese merchant headed the Cohong a guild of traders and was personally responsible for the foreign merchants Wu Ping Chien whom Westerners called Houua mentored some of these foreigners including Delano While the Chinese had much to offer in the way of exports Westerners had little to offer in return except money and opium The illegal importation of this addictive drug led to a shortfall of silver in China and many became addicts unwilling to work Eventually the government intervened and Houua was arrested While the Americans tacitly acuiesced to China’s demands the British did not and the First Opium War soon eruptedAside from the cultural and personal aspects of this account of the “barons of the sea” this book is also a tale of the ships The sooner merchant ships returned home to New York or Boston the sooner the tea could be auctioned This not only led to greater profits but also increased a firm’s reputation This is why men like Delano and Low sought ships with greater speed and cargo capacity For example when Oriental arrived in London in 1850 – the first Yankee clipper to do so – she did so in 97 days a vast improvement from the usual six months which British ships normally took to go from China to London Her cargo sold for 48000 a vast sum when compared to the 10 12 an average working man earned in one monthPrior to this time period ship design had remained fairly stable for 200 years Ships that sailed to China and India were called “Indiamen” and a typical one averaged 175 feet in length 30 feet in width and possessed a deep draft and rounded topsides Beginning in the 1830s the shipwrights and merchants began to revolutionize the design to create Yankee clippers But the men who built these vessels didn’t agree on what designs were best Captain Nathaniel Palmer favored ships with sharp bows and flat bottoms that he believed would average 12 13 knots when laden with tea John Willis Griffiths who never went to sea designed vessels with V shaped bottoms because his draftsman’s mind believed this would make them faster One of his ships Sea Witch traveled 264 miles each day for ten days during a monsoon Her best single day’s distance was 302 milesThese Yankee clippers underwent even radical changes once the merchants turned their attention to the California trade Donald McKay’s designs and skill turned the building of such ships into an art Stag Hound built in 1850 for the California runs could carry 1500 tons of cargo and her sails consisted of 9500 suare yards of canvas She was the first of the extreme clippers But McKay went on to design even bigger ones Sovereign of the Seas’ tonnage exceeded 2400 and she measured 252 feet in length while the Great Republic as designed would carry 4555 tons and be longer than today’s football fieldMemnon one of Delano’s ships traveled 15000 miles from New York to San Francisco Bay in 123 days Until then the journey around Cape Horn often took over 200; covered wagons leaving Independence Missouri to go overland averaged six months It didn’t take long before the various merchants began competing with one another Their ships were “majestic clippers flying before the wind like great birds of prey their vast spreads of canvas stretchws taut their deep sharp bows piercing wave after wave” 6 In 1851 three clippers left New York bound for San Francisco Captain Charles Low commanded N B Palmer owned by the Lows and named for Captain Nathaniel Palmer on her maiden voyage Moses Grinnell’s Flying Cloud was captained by Josiah Creesy whose wife served as his navigator The third ship Challenge was owned by N G Griswold and cost over 150000 to build She had three decks instead of the normal two and her masts rose than 200 feet above the weather deck Her captain was Robert Waterman There could be only one winner and the race became one that involved rough weather major repairs at sea sabotage mutiny and ended with the arrest of one of the captains and his first mateAs with all things though the time for Yankee clippers ebbed Fewer men wanted to earn their livings at sea As California grew and developed her citizens became self sufficient and no longer had need for ships to bring them necessaries They could make or grow these items themselves and purchase them for far lower prices than the East Coast merchants charged Confederate raiders took their toll on Northern shipping during the Civil War Steam ships were becoming and plentiful Finally the sinking of SS Central America in 1857 proved fatal not only to the 420 male passengers and crew aboard but also to the American economy Lost during the hurricane was the nine tons of California gold and specie that she carried The loss valued at around 2000000 resulted in than just a run on banks Fewer and fewer ship owners could afford the beautiful graceful vessels that had brought great wealth to men who became pillars of nineteenth century American society and whose influence on our culture and politics lasted far into the next hundred yearsThese are the stories that Steven Ujifusa weaves together in his book He includes an inset of photographs an appendix with ship and sail diagrams a section of notes that double as a bibliography and an index He also defines unfamiliar terms at the bottom of the pages where the words occur Barons of the Sea is informative entertaining and enthralling It’s a voyage not to be missed whether you’re fascinated with sailing ships the tea trade or the gold rush or just history in general

  8. Marks54 Marks54 says:

    This book presents a history of sorts about the glory age of the Clipper Ship which developed under American ship designers and investors to service the needs for fast trade to China and later to California after the gold rush along with some additional routes The focus of the book is on this specific type of fast sailing ship although the focal unit in the story is variable There are the US investors and traders associated with the US China trade around the time of the Opium Wars between 1840 and 1860 Their names attest to the persistence of riches once achieved and include the Delano Forbes and Low families This is a fascinating line of the story since the Opium part of the China trade fueled the accumulation of wealth that placed these families suarely in the US elites but which these families vigorously sought to downplay when it came time to write family histories This is also about ship designers and the competition among them to build larger faster and profitable ships to make the long dangerous run around Cape Horn and either up to San Francisco or across the Pacific to ChinaThe story is also an economic story of the interaction of technology and commerce that produces a golden age for a type of vehicle or product that persists as long as its enabling conditions persist The Clipper Ships had limits to their construction and they became increasingly irrelevant as economic conditions in China changed as the California economy became self sufficient and less dependent on imports as steam engine technology improved and as the transcontinental railroads were extended For a few decades however the Clipper Ships were a source of great prestige and greater wealthWhile the book is a history book it reads like a volume of historical fiction such as Amitav Ghosh’s recent trilogy on the Opium Wars Family drama and tragedy intrigues and politics are woven into a series of interrelated family plot lines and which would make a fine miniseries The author is a professional historian and accomplished speaker although he is not university affiliated This is hopeful to me in showing how careers can develop through uality research good writing along with some capable promotion The time period and subject matter is not extensively covered in popular histories since US business and economics at the time was self contained and focused on the emergence of conflicts associated with the Civil War eventually or with the westward expansion In the history of American tycoons Astor gets covered uite a bit although those who followed him seem less well known even though everyone has heard of many of the familiesIt is a uick read and very well written It makes me want to go back and reread Melville and Dana

  9. Anne Morgan Anne Morgan says:

    Today people are fascinated by the Tall Ships when they come into a port people come from miles around to walk their decks and imagine what it might have been like to sail the open waters in these small to us wooden ships with their giant sails But it wasn't all that long ago that these ships ruled the waves Barons of the Sea tells the uniuely American story of the race to build bigger and faster clipper ships in search of money and fameThe first part of Barons sets the stage for the building race by giving the reader an intimate look at early 1800s shipping in China Confined to one port allowed to deal only with a few specific Chinese individuals British and American trading was a young bachelor's game building connections working hard playing hard Americans followed the British lead of smuggling opium into China then using the money from those sales to buy large shipments of goods like tea to bring back to New York or Boston and sell for often huge profits I had never read anything specific on the trade the attempts of the Chinese to stop the opium shipments or the Opium Wars that followed and was fascinated by the story Just as interesting was following the few young men Barons focuses on men who became some of the first millionaires in America With names like Low Aspinwall Forbes and Delano men whose children and grandchildren would build universities rule society and become politicians you may have heard of at least one Franklin Delano Roosevelt those stories all begin with the opium tradeThe close knit band of friends and rivals from China came back to America to build their families and send others back to China to increase the company fortunes But they recognized that the faster a shipment could reach America the money they would make So began the golden age of clipper ship building as each tried to break the speed records of the other adjusting ship designs to get as much speed as possible while still fitting large consignments of goods in the hulls When the gold rush sent thousands rushing to California these same men knew that whoever could get to San Fransisco fastest would earn the most money as basic goods in California were selling for five to ten times the price they were on the East CoastBarons fo the Sea is an interesting exploration of the 19th century trading and economic battles through the focus on a handful of leading men and their daring captains who attempted the dangerous voyages Those interested in maritime history 19th century America and early trading in China will especially appreciate the careful research and writing of this fascinating look into American historyI received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

  10. Triumphal Reads Triumphal Reads says:

    I did receive a physical copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review Clipper ships are some of the most iconic and recognizable sailing ships that were ever built and Steven Ujifusa’s work Barons of the Sea And Their Race to Build the World’s Fastest Clipper Ship puts the spotlight directly on these magnificent vessels International and national American commerce on the high seas of the mid 19th century is explored alongside the wonder that clipper ships instilled in an awestruck population looking to prove itself against the rest of the world The up and coming American merchant dynasties who owned these ships are also covered and the author certainly does not shy away from some of the darker sides of making a profit during this era There were only a few noticeable downsides to the book First would be the slow introduction of actual clipper ships into the narrative The first uarter or so of the book deals largely with the economical context that the clipper ship era entered into in regards to international trade across the oceans The biographical backdrop of some of the prominent players most notably Warren Delano II grandfather to President Franklin Roosevelt was also told at this time While some setting is definitely needed it did feel like the clipper ships took uite a while to be actually introduced in the narrative The only other major aspect of the book that could have been fleshed out a little would be the stories of some of the other countries that also engaged in clipper ship trade While clipper ships were a largely American innovation other countries also tried their hands with the design This may have included British clippers that were only hinted at as well as the history of Dutch clippers That being said there are many highlights to to this work It may have taken some time for the clipper ships to enter into the story but once they do they take front and center stage and essentially become the main characters This creates a lively narrative centered on the ships rather than simply the tycoons that owned them When the world record is set for the fastest voyage from New York to San Francisco sailing around Cape Horn the reader is rooting and cheering for Flying Cloud rather than the ship’s captain Now these high speed records came at a price and the author reveals the grim realities of how this was sometimes accomplished Depending on the captain some crews could be worked mercilessly and crew deaths and mutinies were certainly not unheard of Another enjoyable aspect of the book is that the spotlight does get shown on some other lively characters of the clipper trade and not just the wealthy merchantmen Most notable include Donald McKay the eccentric Canadian born American clipper ship builder and designer who constructed many of the most notable clippers such as Flying Cloud and the largest clipper ever built Great Republic Another favorite is Nathaniel Palmer a rugged Antarctic explorer and clipper captain Overall Steven Ujifusa’s Barons of the Sea And Their Race to Build the World’s Fastest Clipper Ships is full of insight on the clipper ship era and is conveyed in an enjoyable narrative The clippers take the forefront of the story and demonstrate why they are the iconic ships of the Golden Age of Sail 45 out of 5 stars It was originally going to be 4 starts but the terrific diagrams and illustrations in the back of the book were uite helpful in understanding different parts and aspects of clipper ships and were highly appreciated

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