Ashes Under Water: The SS Eastland and the Shipwreck That Shook America

Ashes Under Water: The SS Eastland and the Shipwreck That Shook America

by Michael McCarthy

Hardcover(1st Edition)

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Ashes Under Water: The SS Eastland and the Shipwreck That Shook America by Michael McCarthy

The untold story of the worst disaster on the Great Lakes in U.S. History. On July 24th, 1915, Chicago commuters were horrified as they watched the SS Eastland, a tourism boat taking passengers across Lake Michigan, flip over while tied to the dock and drown 835 passengers, including 21 entire families. Rockefeller, Morgan, and Carnegie had bought into the ship business in the Midwest, creating a boom market and a demand for ships that were bigger, longer, faster. The pressure-filled and greedy climate that resulted would be directly responsible for the Eastland disaster and others. As dramatic as the disaster was, the subsequent trial was even more so. The public demanded justice. When the immigrant engineer who was being scapegoated for the accident was left out to dry by the ship's owners, penniless and down-on-his-luck Clarence Darrow decided to take his case. The defense he mounted, which he was too ashamed to even mention in his memoirs, would be even more shocking.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780762793280
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 10/16/2014
Edition description: 1st Edition
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 632,390
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Michael McCarthy worked for the Wall Street Journal for twenty-two years, first as a reporter and then as an editor on feature stories. He has been published in The Southern Review, among other publications. He has spent twelve years researching the Eastland case. Off and on for more than two decades, Mr. McCarthy has lived in Chicago and now lives in South Haven, Michigan – two places integral to the Eastland story.

Table of Contents

Author's Note x

Cast of Characters xiii

Prologue: Steamer, Sailor, Lawyer xv

Part I Ahead Strong 1

Chapter 1 Worshipful Master 2

Chapter 2 "He Could Attend to the Rest Himself" 10

Chapter 3 "Steady as a Church" 15

Chapter 4 The Flower Ship 18

Chapter 5 Stuck on the Bar 22

Chapter 6 Faints, Curses, and Screams 28

Chapter 7 River Afire 31

Chapter 8 Distant Voices 35

Chapter 9 "A Little Heaven Afloat" 39

Chapter 10 Dragon Breath 43

Chapter 11 Too Late, the Messenger 48

Chapter 12 A Lingering Hat 51

Chapter 13 April Fool's Day 54

Chapter 14 Swallowing the Anchor 56

Chapter 15 A Thousand Balloons 60

Chapter 16 Sleeping on a Volcano 62

Chapter 17 Judgment Day 65

Chapter 18 "I Can't Do Anything Like That" 68

Chapter 19 The Bargain 72

Chapter 20 Playing with Fire 76

Chapter 21 A Sickly Daughter 80

Chapter 22 "A Mr. Hull Is on the Line" 83

Chapter 23 "Goodbye, Everybody" 86

Chapter 24 Broken Propellers 93

Chapter 25 "To Be Nearer Home" 96

Chapter 26 May Day 99

Chapter 27 A Spy Aboard 101

Part II What Is Honest Never Sinks 105

Chapter 28 July 24, 1915 106

Chapter 29 Gone 116

Chapter 30 A Luncheon 123

Chapter 31 The Human Frog 124

Chapter 32 "Who Has Little Martha?" 130

Chapter 33 The Confession 133

Chapter 34 No. 396 136

Chapter 35 "The Angel" 139

Chapter 36 Muzzling Erickson 145

Chapter 37 "You Were Lucky in Cleveland" 147

Chapter 38 The Charges 151

Chapter 39 Fifteen Typed Pages 155

Part III Trial and Error 157

Chapter 40 Running from the Law 158

Chapter 41 A Toy Boat 163

Chapter 42 "I'm Trying to Forget." 166

Chapter 43 The Shady Side 168

Chapter 44 A Vanishing Gash 172

Chapter 45 A Vanishing River 177

Chapter 46 Fool Killer 180

Chapter 47 Bubbles 182

Chapter 48 Another Toy Boat 185

Chapter 49 The Captain Trips Up 186

Chapter 50 The Captain Tears Up 190

Chapter 51 A Litany of No 193

Chapter 52 "It Seemed Like a Century" 198

Chapter 53 "The Rich Stay in Hotels" 204

Chapter 54 A Wrong Irreparable 207

Chapter 55 The Missing Angel 210

Chapter 56 Striking Back 215

Chapter 57 The Diving Detective 219

Chapter 58 A Moment of Honor 223

Chapter 59 A Miscalculation 226

Chapter 60 At Sea 230

Chapter 61 A Secret Singing 233

Chapter 62 "An Impossible Crime" 236

Epilogue: That Day, That Sorrow 240

Acknowledgments 248

Works Cited 249

Notes 258

Index 294

About the Author 302

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Ashes under Water: The S.S. Eastland and the Shipwreck that Shook America 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
M-Cheatham More than 1 year ago
Not many of us would have the tenacity, patience, or energy to research one particular subject for twelve years, but that was precisely what Michael McCarthy, author of Ashes Under Water: The SS Eastland and the Shipwreck that Shook America, did. He accomplished the seemingly impossible feat of compiling a mass of new information and facts about the 1915 disaster, its aftermath, and the civil trial that followed. But don’t, for a minute, think that this book is a boring litany of statistics. It is, on the contrary, just the opposite. McCarthy has succeeded in penning an engaging, engrossing, emotional tale of an unimaginable tragedy. Ashes Under Water is a stunning piece of narrative nonfiction that equals the likes of Jay Bonansinga’s bestseller, The Sinking of the Eastland; America’s Forgotten Tragedy or Erik Larson’s book to movie, The Devil in the White City. McCarthy alternates his short, well-paced chapters between six main characters – Walter Steele & William Hull, the last owners of the Eastland, Joseph Erickson, the Chief Engineer, Clarence Darrow, the soon-to-be-famous lawyer who defended Erickson in court, Captain Harry Pedersen, and James Novotny, a Western Electric employee who brought his wife and two young children along on what was to be a fun-filled outing. The entire Novotny family perished (along with 21 other entire families) onboard the Eastland. McCarthy adds two particularly touching features to this book. The first features involves a story about the doctors who were the first to arrive on the docks after the capsizing. “Doctors with rolled sleeves and ties were quickly growing weary, checking each dire case carried to them, having spent an hour pressing their fingers to the throats of the victims and then calling out one of two words. The first: “Pulmotor.” It was the name for a squeaking contraption recently developed to revive unconscious miners … Besides “Pulmotor,” there was only one other word the doctors would say: “Gone.” Gone. Gone. Gone. Gone. Gone. Gone. Gone. Gone. Gone. Gone. Gone.” McCarthy filled pages with the word using it 844 times to represent each and every victim. Seeing that single, simple word repeated so many times was heartbreaking. And effective. His second emotionally charged feature was called: The Red Cross Toll. When the Red Cross began distributing compensation to the victims’ families, they made a numbered list, highlighting the deceased in bold print. “No. 357. (Polish) Sister, 18; brother, 10, brother, 8, brother, 6, aunt, 29. The only wage earner of four orphans, an employee of the Western Electric Company, was drowned. An aunt had been living with them to do the housekeeping, and she earned about nine dollars a week by needlework.” Again, heartbreaking and effective. In Ashes Under Water, McCarthy makes a case for the hardworking, dedicated, heroic Chief Engineer who posthumously shouldered the blame for the disaster. Author George Hilton of Eastland: Legacy of the Titanic believed that Joseph Erickson deserved to have his good name cleared and now, McCarthy has done just that. Ashes brings long overdue justice to Erickson and his descendants. McCarthy’s new book is perfect for anyone – from high school history classes to adult book clubs. The short chapters make for easy bedtime reading but they also work just as well for the daily Metra commute. Marian Cheatham, author of Eastland, a novel
Anonymous More than 1 year ago