Barons of the Sea: Book summary and reviews of Barons of the Sea by Steven Ujifusa

Barons of the Sea

And their Race to Build the World's Fastest Clipper Ship

by Steven Ujifusa

Barons of the Sea by Steven Ujifusa X
Barons of the Sea by Steven Ujifusa

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Book Summary

In the grand tradition of David McCullough and Ron Chernow, the sweeping story of the nineteenth-century American dynasties who battled for dominance of the tea and opium trades.

There was a time, back when 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.

Barons of the Sea 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 draws 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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Brilliantly chronicled.... A vivid account of larger-than-life if not always attractive characters and a technological marvel that briefly captivated the Victorian world." - Kirkus

"Weaving together details of shipboard life, supporting figures, and the revolutionary changes brought about by clipper ships, this tale of industry will appeal to seafaring and commerce enthusiasts." - Publishers Weekly

"Ujifusa's account is filled with escapades, courage, and deceit. Fans of maritime history, Chinese trade history, and shipbuilding will enjoy." - Library Journal

"Full of remarkable characters and incredible stories, Steven Ujifusa's Barons of the Sea is a fascinating, fast-paced history of America's clipper ship era. Highly recommended." - Nathaniel Philbrick, National Book Award-winning author of In the Heart of the Sea

"Barons of the Sea moves as fast as a clipper ship at full sail. With a seemingly effortless command of the shared history of China and the United States in the nineteenth century, Ujifusa takes the reader on a rare and intoxicating journey back in time." - Candice Millard, bestselling author of Hero of the Empire

"As learned as it is entertaining. Ujifusa has brought the golden age of American maritime commerce to vivid life. Extraordinary people and the wondrous clipper ships they built fill its pages with both great stories and deep insight into what makes humans of any age tick." - John Steele Gordon, author of An Empire of Wealth

"Barons of the Sea is a riveting, raucous book. If you love the sea, it's all here: dreams, money, ambition, and competition." - Jay Winik, bestselling author of April 1865

"This crisply told story of the race to build the fastest ship in the world reads like a thriller, reminiscent of the best of Nathanial Philbrick's sea writing. It carries the reader along like a precious cargo on the high seas. I simply could not put it down." - Admiral James Stavridis, Chairman of the US Naval Institute and former Supreme Allied Commander at NATO

"Barons of the Sea captures both the majesty of clipper ships and the heart of the bold men who wanted to see them go faster and carry more. This story of ambition, innovation, and technology in the age of swift-sailing merchant ships will keep you enthralled." - Dean King, bestselling author of Skeletons on the Zahara

"In this deeply researched and boldly drawn account of the rise and fall of the clipper ship, Steven Ujifusa sheds dramatic new light on the lives, aspirations, and moral dilemmas of those daring Americans who traded with China in the opening decades of the nineteenth century." - Llewellyn Howland III, author of No Ordinary Being: W. Starling Burgess, Inventor, Naval Architect, Aviation Pioneer, and Master of American Design

"By casting new light on major players, Steven Ujifusa has illuminated a long-overlooked facet of the clipper era." -W.H. Bunting, author of Live Yankees: The Sewalls and Their Ships and Sea Struck

The information about Barons of the Sea shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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Author Information

Steven Ujifusa

Steven Ujifusa received his AB in history from Harvard University and a master's degree in historic preservation from the University of Pennsylvania. His first book, A Man and His Ship, tells the story of William Francis Gibbs, the naval architect who created the ocean liner SS United States; The Wall Street Journal named it one of the best nonfiction titles of 2012. His new book, Barons of the Sea, brings to life the dynasties that built and owned the magnificent clipper ships of America's nineteenth-century-era of maritime glory. Steven has given presentations across the country and on the high seas, and has appeared as guest on CBS Sunday Morning and NPR. A recipient of a MacDowell Colony fellowship and the Athenaeum of Philadelphia's Literary Award, he lives with his wife, a pediatric emergency room physician, in Philadelphia. Read more about him at StevenUjifusa.com.

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