Monthly Archives: February 2011

Three titles about the age of sail and the perils of the sea.

In the wake of madness : the murderous voyage of the whaleship Sharon Joan Druett Sharon (Whaleship) Whaling  Mutiny North Pacific Ocean, Norris, Howes, d. 1842 Chapel Hill, N.C. : Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2003 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. 292 p. : ill. ; 22 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 271-273).   Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text.  VG/VG

On May 25, 1841, the whaleship Sharon of Fairhaven, Massachusetts, set out for the whaling grounds of the northwestern Pacific under the command of Captain Howes Norris. A year later, while most of the crew was out on the hunt, Norris remained at the helm with four crew members-three of them natives from the Pacific Islands. When the men in the whaleboats spied the Sharon’s flag flying at half-mast-a signal of distress-they rowed toward the ship to discover their Captain had been hacked to pieces. His murderers, the Pacific Islanders, were covered in blood and brandishing weapons. Unless the crew could retake the Sharon, their prospects of survival were slim. The nearest land was seven hundred miles away.

In an astonishing single-handed recapture, the third officer, Benjamin Clough, swam through shark-infested waters in the dead of night, slipped through one of the cabin windows, and launched a surprise attack on the mutineers, killing two of them and overtaking the other. Though news of Clough’s courageous act spread quickly through ports around the globe, an American investigation into the shipboard crimes was never conducted-even when the Sharon returned home three years later, with only four of the original twenty-nine crew on board. The true story of what happened aboard the Sharon remained buried for over 150 years.

Dramatically and meticulously recreating the events of the Sharon, Druett pieces together a voyage filled with savagery and madness under the command of one of the most ruthless captains to sail the high seas. Like The Pirate Hunter and Blue Latitudes, IN THE WAKE OF MADNESS brings to life a riveting story and exposes the secrets that followed the men of the Sharon to their graves.

 

Rough medicine : surgeons at sea in the age of sail Joan Druett Ship physicians South Pacific Ocean History 19th century New York : Routledge, 2000 Hardcover. First edition and printing. x, 270 p. : ill.; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 251-258) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket and no underlining, highlighting or marginalia in text.  VG/VG

“Killing whales is sometimes attended with bad accidents.” — Dr. William Dalton, surgeon of the Phoenix. Scurvy. Amputation. Tropical disease. Irritable captains. Mutinous crews. Such were the trials facing the men who shipped out as doctors on South Seas whalers in the early nineteenth century.

Having earned a medical degree and a certain station in society, what type of person would sign on for a dangerous three-year voyage to the other side of the globe? What types of medicines and surgical tools did these men have at their disposal? What sort of people did they encounter on remote South Seas islands? Using diaries, journals and correspondence, Joan Druett introduces us to extraordinary characters like the tattooed Dr. John Coulter, forced into tribal warfare by the natives of the Marquesas Islands (later a successful obstetrician back in England), and the venal Charles Frederick Winslow, who set up a seaman’s hospital on Maui and managed to bilk the U.S. government out of a sizeable sum. Rich with fascinating detail, Druett chronicles medicine at sea from the dawn to the demise of the South Seas whaling trade.

 

She captains : heroines and hellions of the sea Joan Druett Women ship captains Biography New York : Simon & Schuster, c 2000 Hardcover. First edition and printing. 304 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.      Includes bibliographical references (p. 273-289) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text.  VG/VG

Long before women had the right to vote, earn money, or have lives of their own, “she captains” — bold women distinguished for courageous enterprise on the high seas — thrilled and terrorized their shipmates, performed acts of valor, and pirated with the best of their male counterparts. From the warrior queens of the sixth century b.c. to the female shipowners influential in opening the Northwest Passage, “She Captains” brings together a real-life cast of characters whose audacity and bravado will capture the imagination. In her inimitable style, Joan Druett paints a vivid portrait of real women who were drawn to the ocean’s beauty — and danger — and dared to captain ships of their own.

 

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Uneasy lies the head that swears a false crown – a story of a Surrey left with only a fringe on top.

Henry VIII’s last victim : the life and times of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey Jessie Childs Poets, English Early modern, 1500-1700 Biography, Surrey, Henry Howard, Earl of, 1517-1547 New York : Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press, 2007 Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. 391 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.     Includes bibliographical references (p. [368]-375) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

A pioneering poet whose verse had a profound impact on Shakespeare and the English Renaissance, Surrey was nevertheless branded by one contemporary as “the most foolish proud boy that is in England.” He was the heir of England’s premier nobleman, first cousin to two of Henry VIII’s wives—Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard—and best friend and brother-in-law to the King’s illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy.

Celebrated for his chivalrous deeds both on and off the battlefield, Surrey became, at only twenty-eight, the King’s Lieutenant General in France. He had his portrait painted more often than any other Tudor courtier, but his confident exterior masked insecurity and loneliness. A man of intriguing contradictions, Surrey was both law enforcer and law breaker, political conservative and religious reformer. The self-styled guardian of the traditional nobility, he was recklessly outspoken against the “new erected men” of the court. Cromwell was a “foul churl,” Paget a “mean creature,” and the problems that beset Henry VIII’s realm were, Surrey hinted, “the bitter fruit of false concupiscence.”

He witnessed and was inextricably caught up in all the major events of the reign: the break with Rome, the Pilgrimage of Grace, the Reformation, the executions of his two cousins, Henry’s French wars, and the brutal power struggle at the end of the reign to which he fell victim. His life, replete with drunken escapades, battlefield heroics, conspiracy, and courtroom drama, sheds new light on the opulence and artifice of a dazzling, but deadly, age.

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Lincoln was by no means a popular president and was re-elected only through massive voter fraud using active duty troops.

Copperheads : the rise and fall of Lincoln’s opponents in the North Jennifer L. Weber United States History Civil War, 1861-1865 Protest movements Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2006 Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. xv, 286 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.     Includes bibliographical references (p. [257]-273) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting or marginalia in text.  VG/VG

The Northern home-front during the Civil War was far from tranquil. Fierce political debates set communities on edge, spurred secret plots against the Union, and triggered widespread violence. At the heart of all this turmoil stood the anti-war Democrats, nicknamed “Copperheads.”

Now, Jennifer L. Weber offers the first full-length portrait of this powerful faction to appear in almost half a century. Weber reveals how the Copperheads came perilously close to defeating Lincoln and ending the war in the South’s favor. Indeed, by the summer of 1864, they had grown so strong that Lincoln himself thought his defeat was “exceedingly likely.”

Passionate defenders of civil liberties and states’ rights the Copperheads deplored Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus, his liberal interpretation of the Constitution, and, most vehemently, his moves toward emancipation. Weber reveals how the battle over these issues grew so heated that Northerners feared their neighbors would destroy their livestock, burn their homes, even kill them. And she illuminates the role of Union soldiers, who, furious at Copperhead attacks on the war effort, moved firmly behind Lincoln. The soldiers’ support for the embattled president kept him alive politically in his darkest times, and their victories on the battlefield secured his re-election.

Packed with sharp observation and fresh interpretations, Copperheads is a gripping account of the fierce dissent that Lincoln called “the fire in the rear.”

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The incompetence of Lincoln, McClellan, Burnside, and Hooker are detailed, if not damned, until they are saved by the butcher Grant.

The sword of Lincoln : the Army of the Potomac Jeffrey D. Wert United States History Civil War, 1861-1865 Regimental histories, United States. Army of the Potomac New York : Simon & Schuster, c 2005 Hardcover. xii, 559 p. : ill., maps ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 497-534) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

The Sword of Lincoln is the first authoritative single-volume history of the Army of the Potomac in many years.

From Bull Run to Gettysburg to Appomattox, the Army of the Potomac repeatedly fought — and eventually defeated — Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia. Jeffry D. Wert, one of our finest Civil War historians, brings to life the battles, the generals, and the common soldiers who fought for the Union and ultimately prevailed. The obligation throughout the Civil War to defend the capital, Washington, D.C., infused a defensive mentality in the soldiers of the Army of the Potomac. They began ignominiously with defeat at Bull Run. Suffering under a succession of flawed commanders — McClellan, Burnside, and Hooker — they endured a string of losses until at last they won a decisive battle at Gettysburg under a brand-new commander, General George Meade. Within a year, the Army of the Potomac would come under the overall leadership of the Union’s new general-in-chief, Ulysses S. Grant. Under Grant, the army marched through the Virginia countryside, stalking Lee and finally trapping him and the remnants of his army at Appomattox.

Wert takes us into the heart of the action with the ordinary soldiers of the Irish Brigade, the Iron Brigade, the Excelsior Brigade, and other units, contrasting their experiences with those of their Confederate adversaries. He draws on letters and diaries, some of them previously unpublished, to show us what army life was like. Throughout his history, Wert shows how Lincoln carefully oversaw the operations of the Army of the Potomac, learning as the war progressed, until he found in Grant the commander he’d long sought.

With a swiftly moving narrative style and perceptive analysis, The Sword of Lincoln is destined to become the modern account of the army that was so central to the history of the Civil War.

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With its dynamic descriptions of perilous flights and bombing runs, Hammer from Above is a worthy tribute to the men and women who flew and maintained the aircraft that so inspired their brothers in arms and terrified the enemy.

Hammer from above : marine air combat over Iraq Jay A. Stout Iraq War, 2003- Aerial operations, American New York : Presidio Press, c 2005 Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. xxi, 392 p. : ill., map ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [391]-392).  Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

In Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Marine Corps’ ground campaign up the Tigris and Euphrates was notable for speed and aggressiveness unparalleled in military history. Little has been written, however, of the air support that guaranteed the drive’s success. Paving the way for the rush to Baghdad was “the hammer from above”–in the form of attack helicopters, jet fighters, transport, and other support aircraft. Now a former Marine fighter pilot shares the gripping never-before-told stories of the Marines who helped bring to an end the regime of Saddam Hussein.

As Jay Stout reveals, the air war had actually been in the planning stages ever since the victory of Operation Desert Storm, twelve years earlier. But when Operation Iraqi Freedom officially commenced on March 20, 2003, the Marine Corps entered the fight with an aviation arm at its smallest since before World War II. Still, with the motto “Speed Equals Success,” the separate air and ground units acted as a team to get the job done.

Drawing on exclusive interviews with the men and women who flew the harrowing missions, Hammer from Above reveals how pilots and their machines were tested to the limits of endurance, venturing well beyond what they were trained and designed to do. Stout takes us into the cockpits, revealing what it was like to fly these intense combat operations for up to eighteen hours at a time and to face incredible volumes of fire that literally shredded aircraft in midair during battles like that over An Nasiriyah .

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