Barons of the Sea: and their race to build the world’s fastest clipper ship


Written by Stephen Ujifusa

There was a time, back when the United States was young and the robber barons were just starting to come into their own, when fortunes were made and lost importing luxury goods from China. It was a secretive, glamorous, often brutal business – one where teas and silks and porcelain were purchased with profits from the opium trade.

Barons of the Sea follows a handful of cutthroat competitors who raced to build the fastest, finest, most profitable clipper ships to carry their precious cargo to American shores. They were visionary, eccentric shipbuilders, debonair captains, and socially ambitious merchants with names like Forbes and Delano – men whose business interests took them from the cloistered confines of China’s expatriate communities to the sin city decadence of Gold Rush-era San Francisco, and from the teeming hubbub of East Boston’s shipyards to the lavish sitting rooms of New York’s Hudson Valley estates.

“With the verse of a natural dramatist” Steven Ujifusa tells a riveting tale of innovation and ingenuity, drawing back the curtain on the making of some of the nation’s greatest fortunes and the rise and fall of an all-American industry as solidi as it was genteel.

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