The Pequod Review:
Written just four months after Redburn (1849), White-Jacket is another partly-autobiographical novel — this time about Herman Melville’s year in the US Navy aboard a man-of-war ship. The book is a less a novel than a series of set pieces, narrated in the first person by the friendly and compassionate title character. White-Jacket doesn’t quite rise to the level of Redburn; it is less intimate, and has a scattered and agenda-driven narrative (detailing, among other things, Melville’s opposition to the practices of flogging). But Melville makes up for these weaknesses with one of his most expansive settings — one that would set the stage for his sprawling masterpiece a year later.