Review: Albemarle by Jim Stempel

From this side of the Atlantic I know little of the naval aspect of the American Civil War other than the Monitor/Merrimac encounter and a vague awareness of a Union blockade and Confederate blockade runners, therefore I was pleased to have the opportunity of reading Albemarle by Jim Stempel. The book is a fictionalised account of the true story of the Confederate Ram Albemarle and it’s activities on the Roanoke river, interspersed with the raids of it’s eventual nemesis Lt. William B. Cushing and also uses conversations and thoughts of Abraham Lincoln to set their actions in the wider context of the war.

This was a very interesting read which as well as being a well written naval fiction story about the ship’s and officers involved gave me a good insight into the wider actions of both navies and the men who fought with them, all set within the wider political context of the aims and activities of both governments and their armies.

I enjoyed reading this novel and for anyone who wished to know more about the Albemarle, the extraordinary achievements of Lt. Cushing and the river campaigns of the navies this fictionalised account is recommended reading.

Source: Review: Albemarle by Jim Stempel

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Knickerbocker Commodore (K) | Historic Naval Fiction

Bruce A. Castleman recently releases a new book available for kindle download worldwide, Knickerbocker Commodore: The Life and Times of John Drake Sloat, 1781-1867. A hardcover version is due to be released in September.

Explores the life and times of John Drake Sloat, the US Navy Pacific Squadron commander who occupied Moneterey and declared the annexation of California at the beginning of the war with Mexico.

Knickerbocker Commodore chronicles the life of Rear Admiral John Drake Sloat, an important but understudied naval figure in US history. Born and raised by a slave-owning gentry family in New York’s Hudson Valley, Sloat moved to New York City at age nineteen. Bruce A. Castleman explores Sloat’s forty-five-year career in the Navy, from his initial appointment as midshipman in the conflicts with revolutionary France to his service as commodore during the country’s war with Mexico. As the commodore in command of the naval forces in the Pacific, Sloat occupied Monterey and declared the annexation of California in July 1846, controversial actions criticized by some and defended by others. More than a biography of one man, this book illustrates the evolution of the peacetime Navy as an institution and its conversion from sail to steam. Using shipping news and Customs Service records from Sloat’s merchant voyages, Castleman offers a rare and insightful perspective on American maritime history.

Source: Knickerbocker Commodore (K) | Historic Naval Fiction

The Notorious Captain Hayes (K/HC) | Historic Naval Fiction

Joan Druett’s new book, The Notorious Captain Hayes: The Remarkable True Story of of William ‘Bully’ Hayes, Pirate of the Pacific, will be released in Hardcover for Australia and New Zealand readers on 1 August 2016. Whilst I understand that it will be reeleased worldwide in due course, for those that can not wait the kindle version is available for pre-order.

Famous throughout the Pacific, from the US to Australia and all points in between, Captain Bully Hayes has been the inspiration for writers ranging from Robert Louis Stevenson to James A. Michener and Frank Clune. Rousing films have been based on his life, and his name adorns bars and hotels all over the Pacific.

But the truth is both less noble and more intriguing than the myth. The Hayes of legend was a product of the popular press at the time, the construction of editors who were determined to construct a romantic figure to feed their readers’ appetites. This, the first proper biography of this legendary nineteenth century figure, simultaneously sorts the facts from the fantasy and recounts an amazing true story of a genuine rogue and adventurer, against the backdrop of the Pacific during the great age of trade under sail.

Source: The Notorious Captain Hayes (K/HC) | Historic Naval Fiction

League of Dragons (HC/K) | Historic Naval Fiction

Naomi Novik’s new book League of Dragons, part of her series which mixes naval fiction with dragons, is now available for pre-order. It will be released worldwide in various formats on 14 June 2016.

Napoleon’s invasion of Russia has been roundly thwarted. But even as Capt. William Laurence and the dragon Temeraire pursue the retreating enemy through an unforgiving winter, Napoleon is raising a new force, and he’ll soon have enough men and dragons to resume the offensive. While the emperor regroups, the allies have an opportunity to strike first and defeat him once and for all if internal struggles and petty squabbles don t tear them apart.

Aware of his weakened position, Napoleon has promised the dragons of every country and the ferals, loyal only to themselves vast new rights and powers if they fight under his banner. It is an offer eagerly embraced from Asia to Africa and even by England, whose dragons have long rankled at their disrespectful treatment.

But Laurence and his faithful dragon soon discover that the wily Napoleon has one more gambit at the ready one that that may win him the war, and the world.

Source: League of Dragons (HC/K) | Historic Naval Fiction

Revolution on the Hudson (K/HC) | Historic Naval Fiction

George C. Daughan has a new book available for pre-order in various formats, Revolution on the Hudson: New York City and the Hudson River Valley in the War of American Independence. It will be available worldwide on 13 June 2016.

The untold story of the fight for the Hudson River Valley―the control of which, both sides firmly believed, would determine the outcome of the Revolutionary War.

No part of this country was more important or contested during the American Revolution than New York City, the Hudson River, and the surrounding counties. Political and military leaders on both sides viewed the Hudson River Valley as the American jugular, which, if cut, would quickly bleed the rebellion to death. Revolution on the Hudson unpacks intricate military maneuvers and investigates the domestic politics and militias of the Hudson River counties. In doing so it answers the greatest question about the war: how a fledgling nation could have defeated the most powerful war machine of the era.

Award-winning historian George C. Daughan constructs a new narrative of the American Revolution that revolves around the central irony of British war aims: that the effort to control the Hudson River–Lake Champlain corridor to Canada transformed the Revolution from a war that Britain should have won easily into a war it could never win.

Source: Revolution on the Hudson (K/HC) | Historic Naval Fiction

The Fireships of Gerontas (K) | Historic Naval Fiction

Alan Lawrence has just released the second book in his series ‘The Continuing Voyages of HMS Surprise’. The Fireships of Gerontas is now available worldwide for Kindle download.

The combined fleet of Turks and Egyptians, in numbers greater than that which Nelson faced at Trafalgar, approaches the vulnerable Greek island of Samos to seek retribution for their humiliating defeat of August 1824. The seafaring patriots of Hydra, Spetses and Psara employ the most terrifying of weapons, fireships, against the Ottoman armada in the greatest, the most climactic battle fought at sea in the Greek war of independence.

Captain Patrick O’Connor leads HMS Surprise and her battle-weary crew of tired veterans once more into the fray to support their Greek brothers-in-arms. Doctor Simon Ferguson, traumatised by an intense summer of conflict and casualties, struggles valiantly to cope with the rising and bloody burden of killed and wounded shipmates.

The author, Alan Lawrence, pays literary homage to the stories and the genius of Patrick O’Brian, and brings HMS Surprise alive once more in a tale which illuminates the intolerable strain endured by the fighting man.

Source: The Fireships of Gerontas (K) | Historic Naval Fiction

Review: Roland: Of Pirates and Patriots by Timothy Freriks | Historic Naval Fiction

Roland: Of Pirates and Patriots is a story about patriotism and the greed for gold. It follows the life of Roland who is a child when he witnesses the murder of his father and takes upon himself a plan to use stolen gold to purchase arms for the defence of America.

The narrative covers a number of years leading up to the war of 1812 as young Roland matures and seeks a method to convert the gold, hidden in England, into weapons that can be stored near Baltimore until they are needed for defence of the city. Sought by a former ships mate who wants the gold he enlists the help of both pirates and privateers to get the arms which are eventually needed during the War of 1812 after Washington has been burned and the British are advancing on Fort McHenry and Baltimore.

The various characters were well rounded and with the plot twists were woven into a well written narrative which I enjoyed reading.Recommended.

Source: Review: Roland: Of Pirates and Patriots by Timothy Freriks | Historic Naval Fiction