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Sailing to California from Boston around Cape Horn, Two Years Before the Mast is both an adventure and an eloquent account of life at sea in the early nineteenth century. Richard Henry Dana is only nineteen when he escapes the patrician world of Boston and Harvard for the arduous voyage. The result is an astonishing book, filled with vivid descriptions of storms, whales, and the ship's mad captain, terrible hardship and magical beauty, and fascinating historical detail.