Customer Reviews: Tales of the Fish Patrol
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars16
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on April 29, 2001
This is a good book! It will appeal to anyone that is a fan of fishing, or sailing or the San Francisco Bay area for that matter.In the early 1900's, young Jack pursues poachers in several short storys that are often funny and sometimes hair-raising! The characters are colorful and full of mischief. Without motors on their boats and the power of the sail only, it's easy to get caught up in the early day version of the car chase as Jack chases one criminal after another. Great adventure!
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VINE VOICEon July 17, 2010
"Tales of the Fish Patrol" is a series of short stories or reminiscences by Jack London. The narrator is a teenage boy who is working on the "fish patrol", a small group of semi-deputized boatmen who patrol San Francisco bay and attempt to enforce the fishing regulations. It reads as very autobiographical and London did do similar work at that age, but how much of these are fictionalized I don't know.

It doesn't matter, though, to the casual reader, because these stories grab you and pull you in. No matter that I'm unfamiliar with sailing boats of a century-plus ago, nor the geography of San Francisco Bay, nor the means and regulations of fishing at that time. London describes everything so vividly that I was never lost. These stories are really gripping and suspenseful and while each can be read individually, the series is an overall narrative that circles around perfectly from start to finish.

The one drawback is that like other authors of his time, London repeats and reinforces ugly ethnic stereotypes and language that is offensive to modern ears. It is jarring but can be overlooked in the pacing of the stories by many readers; however for this reason I wouldn't recommend these stories for younger readers.

I would love to see an edited edition that preserves these exciting stories without the ethnic slurs; they would also make a fun TV or movie adaptation.

Really worth checking out, especially for the price! I had already been familiar with "Call of the Wild" and "White Fang" but will now be seeking out more of London's work.
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on November 11, 2011
The appeal of these stories is universal but Bay Area residents with a sense of place and an appreciation of history
will absolutely enjoy the tales spun by the master in their own back yard. Travel back to a rough hewn time before the modern age and meet some amazing characters-the type that built the City we know and love. Sometimes dismissed as young adult fiction, and not worthy of London's elite canon, these tales, nonetheless, are a vivid portrait of a young, emerging San Francisco.
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on December 16, 2011
When Jack London was a teenager, he hooked up with a gang of sailors who pirated oysters from the beds around San Francisco Bay. After proving himself skilled in this form of larceny, he was persuaded to convert to the right side of the law and contribute his sailing skills to the California Fish Patrol. This agency monitored the waters of the bay, arresting poachers and scofflaws who violated the state fishing regulations. Tales of the Fish Patrol is a collection of short stories that, though highly fictionalized, are based on this period in London's life.

Although each of these seven tales could stand alone as a self-contained short story, they feature recurring characters and are intended to be read in sequence. They are narrated by an unnamed 16-year-old boy, presumably a surrogate for London himself. This narrator is aided by his partner, Charley Le Grant, and mentored by a supervisor, Neil Partington. All seven stories have the same basic structure. In the first few paragraphs, London describes a particular regulation in the fishing code, and the corresponding method of fishing that violates said code. The fish patrolmen find some suspects practicing this illegal angling, and they move to apprehend them. Most of the action in the book is boat vs. boat, rather than man vs. man, though the occasional shot is fired. Usually there is not much trouble in capturing the perpetrators, but difficulty arises in returning the criminals to shore. To this end the narrator and his pal Charley come up with some clever means of outsmarting the bad guys and completing their mission.

This series of stories was originally published in the magazine The Youth's Companion in 1905, so the intended audience was the teenage boys of a century ago. The children of today will most likely not have much interest in these tales, unless they happen to sail boats on a daily basis. For contemporary adults, there's not much attraction here either. There's really nothing wrong with the stories in this collection, but there's nothing memorable about them either. They are merely unexceptional examples of adventure genre fiction that happen to be written by a great author. If you're hoping to gain some biographical insight into London's youth, his nautical adolescence is covered far more vividly and colorfully in the first several chapters of his excellent memoir John Barleycorn. No doubt in its day Tales of the Fish Patrol served its purpose by entertaining America's youth in a workmanlike manner. Nowadays it should only be read by the most enthusiastic of London fans who just can't get enough of his work.
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Famed author Jack London drew on his own experience as an oyster pirate and a fish patrol deputy in the 1905 collection of short stories "Tales of the Fish Patrol."

London vividly recreates the rough and ready world of San Francisco Bay as seen through the eyes of a sixteen year-old sloop sailor. The young man is deputized into the fish patrol and paired with the clever and persistent senior deputy Charley Le Grant. Together they will chase rogue Greek, Italian, and Chinese fishermen around the bay in an intriguing and often humorous battle of cunning versus cunning. The young man proves to be brave and resourceful, willing to take on even the dreaded fish pirate Yellow Handkerchief on his own. Along the way, London describes the underdeveloped San Francisco Bay community as it existed over 100 years ago.

"Tales of the Fish Patrol" is a fun read, recommended to Jack London fans.
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on August 6, 2013
This is a great collection of short stories about a young man doing a very dangerous job in the San Francisco bay area. As usual with Jack London stories, there are plenty of villans and a small group of heroes, who are adept at using smarts to overcome their problems. If you enjoy Jack London stories, this is a must read.
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Famed California author Jack London drew on his own experiences for "Tales of the Fish patrol", a 1905 collection of short stories. In typical Jack London style, the author recreates turn of the century San Francisco Bay and the intense competition for fish and shellfish. The stories are told by a sixteen year-old sailor deputized into the Fish Patrol and paired with the tough senior deputy Charley Le Grant. The two patrollers will chase cunning fish pirates all over the bay, often finding clever ways to trap them. The stories themselves are small gems, mixing humor with drama and suspense, as the young deputy goes up against some tough criminals, including the dreaded Yellow Handkerchief and Big Alec, king of the Greek sailors. Highly recommended as a fun read to Jack London fans.
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on August 2, 2013
A classic action adventure tale very much in the vein of Jack's better known works. Particularly interesting to those who enjoy San Francisco, old west style law enforcement, or commercial fishing.
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on August 10, 2014
Growing up in the California Delta provides me with an interesting perspective on what the Delta once of London's lesser known, yet best works.
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on June 18, 2016
Fine adventure read, I've not read any London since I was a teen-ager. Excellent short stores about SF bay at the beginning of the 1900's
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