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Captains Courageous: 11/19/08

I usually picture Indian settings when I think of Rudyard Kipling. His 1896 novel Captains Courageous has nothing to do with India. For the most part, it's set mostly on the Atlantic Ocean on the schooner "We're Here."

What the book shares with the more typical Kipling fare is a young boy as a protagonist. In this case, the boy is fifteen year old Harvey Cheyne the spoiled son of a railroad tycoon based in California.

Harvey falls over board and ends up on the schooner during fishing season along the Grand Banks. Young Harvey spends the season learning how to fish. Along with the fishing he learns responsibility.

I enjoyed most of the novel but the time at sea seemed to drag on too long. The sea chapters are padding with a number of sea shanties. Kipling did a good a job of showing how multicultural the fishing industry was and how sailors would need to know a handful of languages well enough to communicate with the other ships. Yet, Captains Courageous doesn't seem like a Kipling novel; it reads more like a parody of a Joseph C. Lincoln novel.

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