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Jon Howe

Jon Howe


A young man is stolen from his family and enslaved on a merchant ship. 

In 1810, Eamon McGrath a printer from Marblehead, Massachusetts, wakes up on board a ship in the middle of the North Atlantic ocean.  With no memory of how he came to be on board the ship, he soon learns he has been kidnapped (‘shanghaied’) with four other men. The men have been stolen and are forced to work on the merchant ship, Atalanta, after a British frigate captured most of the ships original crew. The ship has been sold to a company in Hong Kong and is headed to East Asia. The men know that any attempt of mutiny would be futile, and quickly adapt to life at sea.  The ship sails down the east coast of North and South America, before rounding Cape Horn at the southern tip of mainland South America, and then sails up the west coast. They cross the tropics in the North Pacific and approach Hong Kong via the Solomon Islands and the South China sea. The men learn the daily chores and rituals, but conditions on the ship are brutal and the men live in constant fear for their lives. At every port, Eamon writes a letter to his wife and his two children, hoping it will one day reach home.  After the ship stops in Hong Kong, it continues to journey west towards Africa.  But when they reach Port Louis in Madagascar, Eamon finally has a chance to escape when he meets the crew of a ship named Voilà.

Shanghaied by Jon Howe is an enthralling and insightful historical fiction novel about a man who is stolen from his family and enslaved on a merchant ship. As Eamon McGrath and the crew circumnavigate the globe on board the Atalanta, their resilience is put to the test as they battle to survive in the horrific conditions. Set in the early nineteenth century, during a period of rapid social change and increasing global trade, the book captures the experience of many sailors during this time and the brutality of life at sea. Throughout the book, the reader is transported to the oceans of the world and the many fascinating countries, tropical islands, and ports, that the crew encounter along their journey.

Thoroughly researched, with references to key historical events, the book will appeal to those who enjoy historical fiction and adventures at sea.

Star rating: 5 Stars

Summary: A compelling and thought provoking read about a man enslaved on a merchant ship, and his fight for survival.

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