Cover image for Black odyssey : the seafaring traditions of Afro-Americans
Black odyssey : the seafaring traditions of Afro-Americans
Farr, James Barker, 1945-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : P. Lang, [1989]

Physical Description:
310 pages ; 23 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
VK23 .F28 1989 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

On Order



Black Americans mentioned in traditional histories of the United States are usually marginal characters, shuffling along the periphery of momentous change. However, recent scholarship has demonstrated otherwise. Now Black Odyssey documents Afro-American involvement in all the nation's great maritime traditions. In peace and war, from colonial times to the present, black men readily turned to the sea when life ashore proved uncertain or hostile, taking jobs that did not arouse the envy of whites, and perhaps finding a certain solace in the sea's endless harmonies of wind and wave.

Author Notes

The Author: Born into a casual California lifestyle, disoriented by the chaos of the Sixties, James Farr pursued a number of different career paths, including manual laborer and disc jockey, before taking a doctorate from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Farr has taught a wide range of courses at San José State University, and has published in The Journal of Negro History and California History . He is married and has three delightful sons.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Farr's book is the best and most unbiased effort to date to outline the extent and nature of the African-American sailor in the US maritime past. Each chapter is meticulously footnoted. There is also a 23-page up-to-date bibliography that in itself is worth the modest price of this book. Farr brings out some surprising facts, such as the existence of black American shipowners, captains, and all-black crews. He calls attention to the extensive use of black Americans as privateersmen as well as the use of blacks in significant numbers as crew members in important naval engagements during the American Revolution and the War of 1812. Farr does not overemphasize the nautical accomplishments of black sailors; rather, he states facts, footnotes his sources in depth, and then lets readers draw their own conclusions. Unfortunatley, there are no illustrations and the index is inadequate. Nevertheless, this is historical writing at its best. There is no comparable work. Undergraduate readership.-- -B. H. Groene, Southeastern Louisiana University