Before the Wind: The Memoir of an American Sea Captain, 1808-1833

by Charles Tyng

Other authorsThomas Philbrick (Afterword), Susan Fels (Editor), William La Moy (Preface)
Hardcover, 1999

Call number




Viking Adult (1999), 256 pages

Media reviews

A novelist's eye for detail and a storyteller's flair make this yarn a page turner.. Tyng writes with the confident forcefulness that saved him countless times at sea, yet with the open-eyed wonder of a child.. Circumspect only about sex and carousing, Tyng is a valuable informant for historians, and many will find his account of purchasing a ''mermaid'' (a Japanese taxidermist's hoax) worth the price of the book.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Ella_Jill
This book was published by the author’s descendant who found it. The memoirs describe the author’s career working on merchant ships, from ship boy to captain, during which he made 18 various trips. I enjoyed this book. He took a lively interest in everything he saw and had a knack for descriptions. Needless to say, his profession also led to various adventures. He happened to be in Chili and Brazil during their wars for independence, from Spain and Portugal respectively. He learned about the battle of Waterloo, when his ship stopped at St Helena where Napoleon was then guarded. Tyng also witnessed the arrival of the fruits of the industrial revolution. When he saw a steamship for the first time, he thought that it was on fire. His ship was the first one to arrive into Amsterdam via a newly constructed canal, amazing the people who lived alongside the canal and damaging several bridges. When in England, he traveled on the first railroad in the world, from Manchester to Liverpool (the boiler blew up, killing the engineer and burning several workers). This book really allowed me to see life in the early 19th century, and the fact that the author had been everywhere was an added bonus.… (more)




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