Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Armstrong Sperry’s John Paul Jones, Fighting Sailor is a fictionalized biography of one of the naval heroes of the American Revolution. Sperry himself had served in the United States Navy, hence his interest in this great naval captain. The biography cites the major events in Jones’s life that acted as catalysts for his dislike for the English, but the bulk of John Paul Jones, Fighting Sailor focuses upon Jones’s service in the Continental navy during the American Revolution. The author is at his best when he is discussing or describing nautical activities, as he himself was an avid sailor. The book also contains illustrations by Sperry of specific events that are described in the book.

The biography begins with a young John Paul (his real name) learning Scottish history from tales told by his uncle. Young Paul learned of the Scottish humiliation resulting from their brutal defeat by the English at Culloden. He learned that it was a defeat that had to be avenged. The scene shifts forward several years to the Caribbean Sea, where sea captain Paul faced a mutiny and killed its leader. Because of an earlier problem on another ship, Paul believed that the English would not give him, a Scotsman, a fair trial. Fearing this fate, he changed his name to Jones and fled to the American colonies.

At that time, the Colonies were moving toward independence from Great Britain. With the aid of Joseph Hewes, Jones became a lieutenant...

(The entire section is 446 words.)