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Book Note: Patrick O'Brian, The Commodore

I read this book about 10-Sep-2005. [an error occurred while processing this directive] I've read this book before. The book is copyright 1994. This note was last modified Tuesday, 06-May-2014 13:21:22 PDT.

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This is book 17 of the "Aubrey-Maturin" series.

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This note contains spoilers for the book.

[an error occurred while processing this directive] I'm still in the process of reading this book.

A full-blown commodore this time, with a captain under him. And Jack is sent off to work on shutting down the slave trade, at least the parts of it that are illegal. People hide the ownership of ships, of course, and register them in other countries, and just plain lie. And the harbors are bad, the weather troublesome, and the slave trade itself thoroughly disgusting.

We also get some early history of Freetown and Sierra Leone, one of the less successful projects ever to be run. Of course a significant part of the problem is that the British didn't want to take in the freed slaves, almost certainly at least partly for racist reasons. Even without racism, though, taking displaced Africans from nearly stone-age tribal cultures (and those are mostly the ones that got sold as slaves) and trying to integrate them into British society of that period wouldn't have worked very well either. Just setting them on the nearest African shore wasn't a nice concept—almost like "marooning" them, though at least not on a very limited island.

Unhealthy area, too, at least for Europeans. Stephen does manage to survive his case yellow fever, anyway.

And, while they're at it, they get to block another French attempt on Ireland, too. Stephen approves of that, because while he feels the English should let the Irish alone, he thinks Napolean would be far, far worse for the Irish. He was probably even right.

And Stephen ends up right where Diana is staying in Ireland, allowing a rather touching reconciliation to end the book.


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David Dyer-Bennet