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George Washington’s Barbados Diary, 1751–52. Edited by William M. Ferraro et al. (Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press, 2018. Pp. xlviii, 168. $34.95, ISBN 978-0-8139-4137-0.) At the age of nineteen, George Washington traveled with his brother Lawrence to Barbados. The voyage there took from September 25 to November 2, 1751, and after a brief visit of less than two months, George returned alone on December 22, arriving in port at York, Virginia, on January 30, 1752. Washington kept track of the two maritime voyages, with attention paid primarily to the state of the ocean and the winds, with occasional notices of storms, dolphins, and other aspects of life at sea. His notations on activities ashore are brief, with mentions of dinners, fortifications, the vast fields of sugarcane, and comments on the people: the plantation gentlemen, the plantation ladies (he thought they mimicked the fashions of the enslaved women too closely), and the slaves. Washington’s entries are sparse in all details: for example, he merely mentions that on November 16 he “Was strongly attac[k]ed with the small Pox: Sent for Dr Lanahan whose attendance was very constant till my recovery” (p. 71). There is not another entry until he was well enough to leave his quarters, on December 12. The journal, while it fills in some details for Washington’s only trip away from the North American mainland, is so brief as to offer little insight into what impact this journey had on him. Nevertheless, as an editorial project, George Washington’s Barbados Diary, 1751–52 is a tour de force. It begins with a history and evaluation of all previous printed versions of the diary, either in portions or entire; then there is an elegant essay on Washington’s early life and the trip to Barbados. Following a short essay on sailing and navigation is Washington’s version of a log of the voyage, the editors having corrected his measurements and observations. The actual diary comes next (following an essay on the island), complete with extensive footnotes explaining and elaborating on Washington’s text. The text has been transcribed with extraordinary care and expertise. Included are four appendixes: a glossary of nautical terms, a chart explaining navigational data and computations, two letters by Lawrence Washington, and a discussion of the editorial methodology employed. The volume concludes with an extensive “Essay on Sources” and a listing of references cited. There is an index. Altogether, this slight diary is here handsomely presented to the public. [John B. Boles, Rice University]
John Abbot and William Swainson: Art, Science, and Commerce in Nineteenth-Century Natural History Illustration. By Janice Neri, Tara Nummedal, and John V. Calhoun. (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2019. Pp. xii, 239. $49.95, ISBN 978-0-8173-2013-3.) This is a collection of delightful illustrations of various insects and flora by the naturalist and artist John Abbot (1751–ca. 1840). An English-born resident of Georgia, Abbot illustrated thousands of North American species during his lifetime. The illustrations reproduced here were commissioned by the English naturalist William Swainson and were painted between 1816 and 1818 with Abbot’s exquisite watercolor technique. Abbot’s work was beyond just influential, as he documented species that were not to be scientifically categorized for decades to come. This joint project begins with an informative introduction that provides a useful explanation of the relationship between the two men and the larger historical context of the drawings. This book utilizes numerous primary sources to support the significance of Abbot’s lifelong efforts to further scientific understandings of the natural world through his scrupulous documentation. At the end of the volume is a scientific name index that corresponds to the subjects of each drawing by number, as the scientific names of Abbot’s subjects were not assigned at the time he created his works. This beautiful collection of images will appeal to the modern naturalist as a reference book for many species of the southern United States. [Pauline Huff, Rice University]
Louisiana Piney Woods Oil Boom. By Jon L. Gibson. (Gretna, La.: Pelican Publishing, 2019. Pp. 155. $28...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2325-6893
Print ISSN
0022-4642
Pages
pp. 977-982
Launched on MUSE
2019-11-12
Open Access
No
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