Civil War Miscellany The legendary Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley was the first successful underwater warship that is, the first to sink an enemy ship. As chronicled in Raising the Hunley: The Remarkable History and Recovery of the Lost Confederate Submarine, the sub disappeared without a trace in 1864, crippled by a Union ship, and finding it became something of an obsession for many Americans until the vessel was finally brought to shore in 2000. Based on interviews with scientists and historians who studied the Hunley's remains, Charleston, S.C., Post and Courier journalists Brian Hicks and Schuyler Kropf reconstruct the sub's final voyage in this dramatic slice of Civil War history. ( Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
This book offers two separate but interconnected stories about the first attack submarine, the Confederate H.L. Hunley. The authors first discuss the development of the primitive, hand-powered vessel, its successes in battle, and its eventual mysterious loss at sea. Their second story focuses on the raising of the Hunley at the end of the 20th century, covering the various archaeologists, historical agencies, and treasure seekers who attempted to find the "fish boat." The boat was finally recovered in 2000 by a team led by adventurer and author Clive Cussler. Hicks and Kropf, two Charleston, SC, reporters, spent considerable time covering Cussler's recovery and the historical secrets it uncovered. Unfortunately, their book lacks sufficient background research. The first half is weak in historical context, while in the second half the authors fail to address the broader issues surrounding the boat's recovery. Certainly, Cussler was the hero in this case, but it may have been useful to address whether having historical treasures recovered by such private enterprise "cowboys" as Cussler is called is best for the future of such national artifacts. Recommended, with reservations, for regional libraries and libraries with large Civil War collections. Charles K. Piehl, Minnesota State Univ., Mankato Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Adult/High School-The Hunley was all but forgotten until its retrieval in August, 2000. Resembling a fictional adventure tale, the book takes readers back to federally blockaded Charleston, SC. Without access to goods brought in by ships to the formerly bustling harbor, the South feared certain defeat. An idea to develop a small underwater ship that could evade detection as it delivered a torpedo to a Union blockade ship was offered as a wisp of hope by New Orleans lawyer Horace Lawson Hunley. Its development, however, was fraught with danger, and the first two test runs resulted in the deaths of 13 crew members. Finally, the sub was sent for its maiden voyage on February 17, 1864, whereupon it accomplished its task: it sank the Housatonic. Shortly after signaling the shore that it was about to return, it disappeared. The struggles to locate and retrieve the ship, spearheaded by author Clive Cussler, and the efforts to preserve it as a historical treasure trove, are nearly as fascinating as the story of its construction. The description of the Hunley's reentry into Charleston Harbor on August 8, 2000, before a cheering, saluting crowd of more than 20,000, is quite an emotional moment. Photos are mostly from the salvage and raising operation, with a few portraits of the crew included. Diagrams give readers a feel for the confines of the limited space within the submarine and the frightening conditions in which these men died. This exciting, well-done slice of history should have broad appeal.-Carol DeAngelo, Kings Park Library, Burke, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Two South Carolina journalists breathlessly narrate the story of the construction, loss, location, recovery, and restoration of the first submarine in history to carry out a successful attack on an enemy vessel. On February 17, 1864, moments after it had delivered an explosive charge that sunk the Union blockade ship Housatonic, the Hunley itself, for reasons still unknown, drifted to the bottom of Charleston Harbor. For 131 years, it lay undisturbed, but not forgotten. As Hicks and Kropf demonstrate in their brisk, breezy, and hyperbolic prose, the Hunley became for millions of people (the authors' estimate) "the Holy Grail of the Civil War." The story opens on August 8, 2000, with a salvage team raising the Hunley in view of thousands of sightseers. As it breaks through the Atlantic surface into the morning light, Hicks and Kropf whisk us back to the mid-19th century to meet the creators, investors, builders, and sailors of the craft, which was named for designer and investor Horace Lawson Hunley. We experience the tribulations and terrors of the first submariners, many of whom drowned during the R&D phase, and we witness the fierce competition among those searching for the vessel, including novelist Clive Cussler, whose team eventually did locate the Hunley. The authors have thoroughly researched the topic and display a sharp eye for engaging detail and poignant coincidence. But the subject has excited them so thoroughly that they write more like romance novelists than historical journalists: "As Dixon stood on the beach, tall and handsome, the sea breeze tussling his light-colored hair, he knew his time had come." They also sidestep racial politics. Although they allude to theConfederate-flag issue in South Carolina, it doesn't seem to occur to them that the reverence white Southerners feel for the Hunley might not be shared by folks whose ancestors' state of forced servitude it was defending. Fascinating but facile. (b&w illustrations throughout; 8 pages color photo, not seen) Author tour