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

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Nelson’s Band of Brothers (HC) – Historic Naval Fiction

Peter Hore has a new book available for pre-order in Hardcover, Nelson’s Band of Brothers: Lives and Memorials. It will be released on 30 may 2015 and in the US on 15 June 2015.

While there is a perennial interest in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic wars and in Nelson himself, there is no reference work that chronicles all the captains of his ships, their social origins, their characters and the achievements in their lives beyond their service under Nelson. This new book, researched and written by distinguished historians, descendants of some of Nelson’s officers, and members of the 1805 Club, presents concise biographies of those officers who fought with Nelson in his three great battles, with superb colour illustration throughout.

Nelson first gave the name of band of brothers to the officers who had commanded ships of his fleet at the battle of the Nile (1798). This new volume will include 100 officers, ranging from lieutenants in command of gunboats at the battle of Copenhagen (1801) through captains of line-of- battle ships at the Nile and at Trafalgar (1805), to admirals in command of squadrons in his fleets. Of real significance are the specially commissioned photographs of all the monuments and memorials to Nelson s captains, descriptions with transcriptions of epitaphs, and clear directions to enable the readers to find them. Part travel book, part biography and moving testimony to Nelson’s faithful captains, Nelson’s Band of Brothers presents the opportunity to rediscover 100 local heroes.

via Nelson’s Band of Brothers (HC) – Historic Naval Fiction.

Review: The Elephant Voyage by Joan Druett – Historic Naval Fiction

I like to learn new things from history and Joan Druett’s The Elephant Voyage revealed the fascinating story of one sealing ship and the fates of it’s crew in a narrative that was educational from start to finish. There are two sections to the book, firstly an account of the voyage where some of the crew find themselves abandoned on a desolate, wind-swept island in the Southern Ocean, while hunting for elephant seals in the 1880’s, and secondly the public outcry and political ramifications in New Zealand of their rescue.

Captain Sanford Miner outfitted the schooner Sarah W. Hunt and recruited an inexperienced crew. After getting to Macquarie Island, a tiny island between Tasmania and Antarctica, they find the beaches devoid of seals and go on to Campbell Island, another rocky outcrop in the Southern Ocean, where the captain sends the mates and crew off in two whale boats to search for seals. Blown out to sea in a storm one boat barely manages to get back to shore after several days only to find the ship gone.

The captain, deciding the crew was lost, had sailed to New Zealand assisted only by the cook. For the reader the Captain is now the villain of the piece but you have to admire the feat of seamanship in getting safely to port. His arrival leads to calls for a rescue mission to search for survivors which starts the political wrangling. The crew are rescued but the consequences are surprising as the courts, politicians, the press and the US consul are all drawn into the story.

This book was interesting, not just for the story outlined above, but for it’s insights into both life in New Zealand at this time and also the establishment by them of huts and stores on the various remote islands for the use of castaways and what can be regarded as an early move towards modern search and rescue.

via Review: The Elephant Voyage by Joan Druett – Historic Naval Fiction.

A Path in the Mighty Waters (HC)

Last month Stephen R. Berry released a new Hardcover book, A Path in the Mighty Waters: Shipboard Life and Atlantic Crossings to the New World. in the US. It will be released in the UK on 28 February 2015. It is also available worldwide for Kindle download.

In October 1735, James Oglethorpe’s Georgia Expedition set sail from London, bound for Georgia. Two hundred and twenty-seven passengers boarded two merchant ships accompanied by a British naval vessel and began a transformative voyage across the Atlantic that would last nearly five months. Chronicling their passage in journals, letters, and other accounts, the migrants described the challenges of physical confinement, the experiences of living closely with people from different regions, religions, and classes, and the multi-faceted character of the ocean itself.

Using their specific journey as his narrative arc, Stephen Berry’s A Path in the Mighty Waters tells the broader and hereto underexplored story of how people experienced their crossings to the New World in the eighteenth-century. During this time, hundreds of thousands of Europeans – mainly Irish and German – crossed the Atlantic as part of their martial, mercantile, political, or religious calling. Histories of these migrations, however, have often erased the ocean itself, giving priority to activities performed on solid ground. Reframing these histories, Berry shows how the ocean was more than a backdrop for human events; it actively shaped historical experiences by furnishing a dissociative break from normal patterns of life and a formative stage in travelers’ processes of collective identification.

Shipboard life, serving as a profound conversion experience for travelers, both spiritually and culturally, resembled the conditions of a frontier or border zone where the chaos of pure possibility encountered an inner need for stability and continuity, producing permutations on existing beliefs. Drawing on an impressive array of archival collections, Berry’s vivid and rich account reveals the crucial role the Atlantic played in history and how it has lingered in American memory as a defining experience.