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John Grady, the author of “Matthew Fontaine Maury, Father of Oceanography:

A Biography, 1806 – 1873,” discusses Maury’s time in Richmond during the American Civil War and his contributions to the Confederacy in this lecture.


“This timely project takes advantage of the last fifty years of development on the history of science, of the antebellum South, and of the American maritime world. …Grady’s work is at its most convincing when describing Maury as a man representative of his time and place: industrious, easily caught up in ambitious ideas, and seemingly inescapably lashed to the social and economic order of slavery.”

Margaret Stack, University of Connecticut, November 2016, vol. 82, no. 4, 1002.

Two reviews that captured what I wanted to do with Matthew Fontaine Maury, Father of Oceanography: picture him in a way that was similar to that of Hyman Rickover, father of the nuclear Navy. They were naval officers who were highly controversial, public figures inside and outside the sea service, in the United States and abroad.


“John Grady’s exhaustively researched biography Matthew Fontaine Maury, Father of Oceanography, offers an analysis that carefully engages the complexities of Maury’s public and private life. …Grady excels at tracing and explaining naval and his scientific contributions to oceanography and military technology.”

In summing up, the reviewer wrote, “Matthew Fontaine Maury, Father of Oceanography is a welcome and significant contribution to scholarly work on Maury’s life. …Throughout Grady illustrates why Maury is remembered as the ‘father of oceanography’ while at the same time paying careful attention to the political, social, and economic contexts of that legacy.”

Matthew Mace Barbee
Virginia Magazine of History and Biography
Vol. 123, No. 3

The substantial bibliography included in Grady’s book does not only easily demonstrate that the book is based on solid research and knowledge of the wider historical framework, but is also a most helpful tool for anybody interested in naval history and/or history of oceanography during the 19th century. You might have wished for some more illustrations, in particular of the various charts produced by Maury over his whole career, reproductions of his scientific works, etc. Given the fact that the book is available for a reasonable price, this does not limit the positive impression of the book at all.

Without any doubt, Grady needs to be credited for bringing one of the most interesting naval officers of the 19th century back to center-stage and for writing a book that is simply an enjoyable read.

Dr. Ingo Heidbrink
Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA.

“I highly recommend John Grady’s biography of this naval genius [Matthew Fontaine Maury], southern gentleman, and occasional curmudgeon.”

You can read full review, starting on page 86 here.


How John Yates Beall and His Men Became the Maritime Mosby Rangers”

John Grady talks about his book “Matthew Fontaine Maury, Father of Oceanography

John Speaking at the Museum of the Confederacy

John Speaking at the Virginia Historical Society

John Speaking at Mary Washington University

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