Two Years Before the Mast [R H Dana] (1840) 19th century US sailing industry
"On the following night, I stood my first watch. I remained awake nearly all the first part of the night from fear that I might not hear when I was called; and when I went on deck, so great were my ideas of the importance of my trust, that I walked regularly fore and aft the whole length of the vessel, looking out over the bows and taffrail at each turn, and was not a little surprised at the coolness of the old seaman whom I called to take my place, in stowing himself snugly away under the long-boat for a nap. That was a sufficient lookout, he thought, for a fine night, at anchor in a safe harbour." page 2.
Personal Memoir of Daniel Drayton (1855) underground railroad from Washington, DC...by water?
"I came to Washington, not to preach, nor to hear preached, emancipation, equality and brotherhood, but to put them into practice...Saturday evening, at supper, I let English [the cook] a little into the secret of what I intended. I told him that the sort of ship-timber we were going to take would prove very easy to load and unload..." page 27
"The idea of being torn in pieces by a furious mob was exceedingly disagreeable." page 38
Notes on Spain and the Spaniards [J J Pettigrew] (1861) 19th century travel
"...the mate and myself discussed radishes, until about noon..." page 28
"It was a place to bow down and worship in sincere abasement, the Creator who made them [the Alps] and us alike." page 37
"I...would have willingly spent the day upon the rock, watching the shadows of the clouds as they floated slowly over the landscape." page 47
The Heart of a Soldier [George Pickett] (1913) 19th century war
"Oh, how faithfully they kept their word-following me on-on-to their death...
I can't write you a love-letter to-day, my Sally, for with my great love for you and my gratitude to God for sparing my life to devote to you, comes the overpowering thought of those whose lives were sacrificed - of the broken-hearted widows and mothers and orphans. The moans of my wounded boys, the sight of the dead, upturned faces, flood my soul with grief-and here am I whom they trusted, whom they followed, leaving them on that field of carnage" page 102
Schooner Captain [Hugh Shaw] (1972) 19th-20th century UK sailing industry
"We must accept what comes." page 147. These are the closing words of the book.
What do all these have in common? They're personal memoirs and letters. They've been recorded by different kinds of people in various locations and life situations, but they're all very human. I don't read them thinking, "I wish I could have been there" so much as I read them thinking, "So that is how he felt...what he thought...how he responded...and how he expressed..." The everyday of life.
So if anyone has recommendations of this sort, I'd love to hear them! I probably won't have time to read any till my Missions Reading Group is over this November, but I will at least put them on a "to read" list.