The Greater the Honor -By William H. White, 287 pages, $29.95, Tiller Publishing, St. Michaels, Md., www.tillerbooks.com
Penned against the backdrop of Stephen Decatur’s exploits off the Barbary Coast, this coming-of-age account follows 14-year-old midshipman Oliver Baldwin aboard the U.S.S. Argus and across the Atlantic to Gibraltar and the squadron of Navy ships protecting Yankee shipping interests in the Mediterranean Sea. Of course Baldwin participates in Stephen Decatur’s famous raid on Tripoli.
But this is more than just an adventure story. Author William H. White’s painstaking attention to detail brings the sights, sounds and smells of a Navy ship into sharp focus. Through the eyes of a youngster who, like this reader, is largely unfamiliar with the world around him, White communicates a wealth of information that would otherwise seem cumbersome. Although the expression “piratical bastards” seemed overdone, this is a solid book for young and old alike.