Publishers Weekly--March 3, 2014
Journalist Martelle (Detroit: A Biography
) tells the fascinating "historical detective story" of how Gen. Horace Porter, United States ambassador to France from 1897 to 1905, directed a long, complicated effort to discover the forgotten final resting place in Paris of the legendary U.S. Navy hero John Paul Jones, who died there in 1792. ... Martelle's well-written and well-researched narrative focuses on Porter's complicated five-year quest to find Jones's burial site and the machinations required to get the body back home.
"Well-written and well-researched narrative." —Publishers Weekly
“Part detective story, part Indiana Jones, Martelle takes readers on a splendid and sometimes macabre journey. . . .” —Matthew Algeo, author of Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure
“A delightfully creative slice of the American history pie.” —Dean King, author of Skeletons on the Zahara and Patrick O’Brian: A Life
“[A] fascinating history. . . .” —Nicholas Nicastro, author of The Eighteenth Captain: A Novel of John Paul Jones
"Martelle’s account of the efforts to find Jones’ body and of the man chiefly responsible for it, is fascinating and thorough. He manages to incorporate many interesting anecdotes and historical details along the way, all of which add color and texture to the tale, and it’s a tale worth reading." —What Would the Founders Think
"[Martelle] effectively connects the dots between Jones’ naval career and somewhat star-crossed life and Porter’s solid military and political accomplishments. Using a “flashback”-type writing style, Martelle skillfully manages to introduce the reader to both men, giving us an understanding of each others’ strengths, weaknesses, and major life events." —Cannonball
"Really enjoyed the Hell out of this book. A fine read for history buffs and lovers of a good political mystery." —The Mystery Spot
"[W]hat we have is newspaper reporter Scott Martelle’s compact slice of American history wrapped in what newspaper editors like to describe as: “A darn good yarn.” That’s editor shorthand for an insignificant story that is highly entertaining – a good read." —Buffalo News
"A fast paced and engaging story about the discovery of Jones' burial site...Martelle's narrative on the discovery process is informative as is his discussion of Porter's life." —Naval History
From the Author
As a veteran journalist, I've long been drawn to overlooked narratives from the past. In this case, a magazine article questioning the identity of the body sealed up in the John Paul Jones sarcophagus at Annapolis led me to the intriguing story about the search for the admiral's body more than a century ago in Paris.
The frame of the story invariably shows up in the final chapters of Jones biographies. But I was more curious about Ambassador Horace Porter, the man who put his own fortune behind the expensive search to try to find and recover Jones's body (and yes, I believe he found the right one). The lives of Jones and Porter, I realized as I dug into the research, cover large swaths of American history, from the Revolution to the Civil War to the nation's emergence as an industrial power and then a world power with the 1898 Spanish-American War.
But it also is a story involving fascinating characters, from Jones, the Scottish gardener's son who, in some eyes, was the creative force behind the US Navy, to Porter, a Civil War hero who moved among the upper reaches of American industrialism and politics. It touches on presidents Ulysses S. Grant (Porter was an aide in both the war and the White House), William McKinley (Porter raised millions in the campaign to get him elected), and Teddy Roosevelt (under whose administration Jones's body was finally discovered and moved to the US Naval Academy, where it now rests).
I hope you find it as intriguing to read as I found it to write.