Between Two Fires

Written by Nicholas Nicastro
Review by Jeanne Greene

This second volume of a trilogy on the life of the American naval hero, John Paul Jones, starts with his commission to the Bon Homme Richard and ends with the surrender at Yorktown. It includes the famous sea battle with the Serapis, and ah, yes, the phrase that most American students are taught belongs to John Paul Jones is included, naturalized into the action most believably. The English officer cannot understand why the American ship, which is sinking, is not yet surrendered. He asks several times, do you strike? Jones’ replies I will let readers discover for themselves. The exciting naval action is interspersed with a narrative of Sullivan’s sad, thoroughly detestable expedition into Iroquois territory, penned by an officer of education and discernment to his sweetheart in Portsmouth. A third storyteller is a member of the Cayuga tribe. He is outside the white world but gets caught up in events, providing plot twists and resolution for the end of this volume. Characters are well drawn but unsentimentally presented, with no melodrama, and beyond political correctness. This volume can be read on its own, but the relationship between the principals begins in the first, so reading The Eighteenth Captain is perhaps the best way to begin. Maritime fans and those who enjoy the Revolutionary War period will enjoy this series the most, but it was quite an enjoyable read.