Trail Blazer of the Seas

Trail Blazer of the Seas

by Jean Lee Latham
Publisher: Purple House Press
Trade Paperback, 245 pages
Price: $10.99

From the author of Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, winner of the 1956 Newbery Medal, Jean Lee Latham writes an absorbing biography of Matthew Fontaine Maury, the man considered to be the father of modern oceanography.

In the early 1800s, the voyage from New York to San Francisco took six months. That was before Maury, a lieutenant in the US Navy, blazed a trail for ships to follow. The first ship to follow Maury's directions based on his wind and current charts cut nearly two months off that time. Later, clipper ships cut that time in half.

For seven years Maury had fought against skepticism and bitter opposition, for the cooperation needed to gather data for his charts. Years later, at a worldwide peacetime conference in Brussels, which he organized in 1853, nine-tenths of the world's ships were helping Maury collect data and blaze more trails.

After the success of his charts, Maury blazed on with more new ideas: he campaigned for a Naval Academy, for better fortification of our southern ports, and separate shipping lanes for eastbound and westbound routes in the Atlantic to avoid deadly collisions.

Jean Lee Latham gives a warm, lively picture of the man and a clear explanation of his achievements. Victor Mays' drawings are both powerful and authentic.

Disclaimer: Matthew Maury was born in the south during the time of slavery, he lived through the civil war and supported the Confederate States of America. That part of his life, including his views on slavery, are not in this book.

 

In the early 1800's the voyage from New York to San Francisco took six months. That was before Matthew Fontaine Maury, a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, blazed a trail for ships to follow. All his life he fought, against bitter opposition, for his ideas: for a Naval Academy, for better fortifications of our southern ports, for separate steam lanes for eastbound and westbound shipping in the Atlantic to prevent collisions. He blazed the trail for the laying of the Atlantic Cable, and for the founding of our weather bureau. An inspiring and absorbing biography.

Did you find this review helpful?