C.D. White,
Standards Left Ragged
(Broadsides, 2006)

Standards Left Ragged narrows its focus on the American Revolution to the pivotal waters surrounding the Chesapeake Bay. But what makes this short novel by Charles White especially fascinating is its point of view -- or points, rather, because there are two, and they're on opposite sides of the war.

Captain Phillip Fairaday is a Yankee privateer, while his brother-in-law and former friend Lt. Eliot Marlborough commands a ship for the Royal British Navy. But, while the chapters alternate between the two men's perspectives, their paths in this book rarely cross.

Fairaday loses his ship early in the book after being cornered by a larger British warship. Much of the novel deals with his efforts to outfit a second ship while dealing with a mutinous faction among his crew and false charges of murder. Marlborough, meanwhile, is working against the odds to take the naval battle to the Colonial upstarts.

Both men are, in their way, brave and honorable representatives of their own side of the war, and each believes in the rightness of his convictions. White avoids making either side the villain here; he balances both perspectives evenly and fairly.

Standards Left Ragged is a swift, pleasant and absorbing read that will find a ready audience among anyone interested in America's Revolutionary War and 18th-century naval warfare. I hope someday to enjoy further adventures of these two opposing men.

review by
Tom Knapp

23 February 2008

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