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To My Dearest Wife, Lide, To My Dearest Wife, Lide, 0817320237, 0-8173-2023-7, 978-0-8173-2023-2, 9780817320232, , Maritime Currents: History and Archaeology, To My Dearest Wife, Lide, 0817392378, 0-8173-9237-8, 978-0-8173-9237-6, 9780817392376, , Maritime Currents: History and Archaeolog

To My Dearest Wife, Lide
Letters from George B. Gideon Jr. during Commodore Perry’s Expedition to Japan, 1853–1855
Edited by M. Patrick Sauer and David A. Ranzan

Trade Cloth
2019. 272 pp.
15 B&W figures
Price:  $49.95 s
E Book
2019. 272 pp.
15 B&W figures
Price:  $49.95 d

A personal account of Commodore Perry’s landmark expedition to Japan and life in the antebellum navy
George B. Gideon Jr. served as second assistant engineer aboard the  USS Powhatan from 1852 to 1856. From his position on the steam  frigate, Gideon traveled to Singapore, Labuan, Borneo, Hong Kong, and many other Asian lands. During his time at sea, Gideon penned dozens of letters to his wife, Lide, back home in Philadelphia. Recently  discovered in the attic of his great-great-grandniece, were fifty-one letters penned by Gideon providing thorough and insightful commentary  throughout the voyage.

Through these correspondences, Gideon laboriously documents the details of his daily life on board, from the food they ate to the technical aspects of his work, as well as observations concerning the historical events unfolding around him, such as Chinese piracy, the Taiping Rebellion, the Crimean War, and the devastation of Shimoda.  To My Dearest Wife, Lide: Letters from George B. Gideon Jr. during  Commodore Perry’s Expedition to Japan, 1853–1855 is a rare first-person account of the landmark American naval expedition to Japan to establish commercial relations between the two countries. Gideon’s letters have been meticulously transcribed and annotated by the editors and are an invaluable primary historical source.

Gideon’s letters are candid and revealing, delving into the rampant dysfunction in the navy of the 1850s—sickness and disease, alcohol abuse, and poor leadership, among other challenges. Gideon also unabashedly shares his own cynical views of the navy’s role in supporting American economic interests in Japan. This firsthand account of the political mission of the Perry expedition is a unique contribution to naval and military history and gives readers a better view of life aboard a navy ship.

M. Patrick Sauer is an entrepreneur based in Baltimore, Maryland. His wife is a descendant of George B. Gideon Jr.

David A. Ranzan is university archivist and special collections librarian  and associate professor at Adelphi University. He is the editor of Surviving Andersonville: One Prisoner’s Recollections of the Civil War’s Most Notorious Camp and coeditor of With Commodore Perry to Japan: The Journal of William Speiden Jr., 1852–1855 and Hero of Fort Schuyler: Selected Revolutionary War Correspondence of Brigadier General Peter Gansevoort, Jr.

“No major event, or series of events, may be truly understood solely via the official record; it is the daily correspondent who relates feelings of the moment. To My Dearest Wife, Lide offers us unique perspective of a mid-grade officer. Given the magnitude of the events these letters describe, such a narrator arguably provides the most reliable common pen with the most common touch. No grace or blemish is left behind, and to scholars of this era or to those seeking a sailor’s story ‘in his own words,’ I highly recommend this book.”
Sea History

“To My Dearest Wife, Lide is a recently discovered primary source that will be useful to an audience of scholars and naval history buffs.”
—John H. Schroeder, author of Matthew Calbraith Perry: Antebellum Sailor and Diplomat

“This volume offers a unique contribution to our understanding of life in the antebellum navy and of Perry’s expedition to Japan in particular.”
—Jason Smith, Southern Connecticut State University

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