Richard Henry Dana referred to this book as a voice from the sea. It is a book which influenced Conrad and Melville, and it has become a maritime classic which has inflicted legions of men with a passion for the sea.
Dana, a law student turned sailor for health reasons, sailed in 1834 on the brig Pilgrim for a voyage from Boston around Cape Horn to California. (Hence Dana Point was named). Drawing from his journals, Two Years Before the Mast gives a vivid and detailed account, shrewdly observed and beautifully described, of a common sailors wretched treatment at sea, and of a way of life virtually unknown at that time.