Patrick O’Brian’s “A Book of Voyages” (Norton) dates from 1947, but it’s never been issued in this country before, not even during the height of the Aubrey/Maturin novels. 2014 will mark O’Brian’s centennial, and you can consider this book the opening salvo in what is sure to be a yearlong reissue of everything the man wrote.
“A Book of Voyages” is an anthology the then-unknown O’Brian put together from first-person diaries, letters and books detailing sea voyages, introduced and annotated by O’Brian himself. None of the authors was previously known to me, and the pieces often have a certain antic humor, as in the advice given by one Philip Thicknesse to travelers heading to France in the 18th century:
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