Chuck Pfarrer writes a stunning historical novel entitled Philip Nolan: A Man Without a Country. Pfarrer uses a short story written by Edward Everett Hale and published in “The Atlantic” in 1863 as basis and launching point for his novel. The protagonist of the novel is Philip Nolan who, in 1807, becomes involved in a sedition plot along with Aaron Burr. Burr uses Nolan to carry a treasonous message into the Louisiana territory, without Nolan’s knowledge. Nolan is kept in the dark about Burr’s intentions, and likewise has no idea that the plot has been discovered by Thomas Jefferson. Soon, both men find themselves in court answering on charges of treason. At his sentencing, Philip Nolan proclaims that he does not want to hear about the United States again. The judges carry out the sentence and permanently exile Nolan to the seas. The rest of the story deals with the rest of Nolan’s life as he traverses the vast oceans.
“When the final command was given, Fitzgerald saw plainly that the muzzle of Nolan’s pistol was pointed down and away from Colonel Bell.”
Pfarrer’s book is a great sea adventure story. The reader takes an up-close and intimate look at what life was like aboard the ships of the 19th century as they crisscrossed the world’s oceans. Like any good sea adventure book, Pfarrer’s novel has its share of twists and turns. It is as unpredictable as the sea itself. One minute Nolan and his shipmates are joyfully conversing, and the next they button down the hatches and prepare for a storm. In addition, many characters in the book have their own backstory to tell.
I highly enjoyed reading Pfarrer’s novel. I would recommend it to anybody who is fascinated with the sea and loved reading sea adventure stories in childhood.