The Maritime Heritage Project.

Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

The Age of Sail

The Age of Sail.Commodore Levy:
A Novel of Early America in the Age of Sail
(Modern Jewish History)

Irving Litvag
By all accounts, Uriah Phillips Levy, the first Jewish commodore in the U.S. Navy, was both a principled and pugnacious man. On his way to becoming a flag officer, he was subjected to six courts-martial and engaged in a duel, all in response to antisemitic taunts and harassment from his fellow officers. Yet he never lost his love of country or desire to serve in its navy. When the navy tried to boot him out, he took his case to the highest court and won.
This richly detailed historical novel closely follows the actual events of Levy’s life: running away from his Philadelphia home to serve as a cabin boy at age ten; his service during the War of 1812 aboard the Argus and internment at the notorious British prison at Dartmoor; his campaign for the abolition of flogging in the Navy; and his purchase and restoration of Monticello as a tribute to his personal hero, Thomas Jefferson. Set against a broad panorama of U.S. history, Commodore Levy describes the American Jewish community from 1790 to 1860, the beginnings of the U.S. Navy, and the great nautical traditions of the Age of Sail before its surrender to the age of steam.

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Noteworthy and New Publications

A Seafaring Legacy.A Seafaring Legacy: The Photographs, Diaries, Letters, and Memorabilia of a Maine Sea Captain and His Wife, 1859-1908A Maine Sea Captain and His Wife.
Julianna FreeHand
This is a special book whether you are researching family, thinking about traveling the world via the sea, or simply love reading about America’s early coastal families, how they lived and how they traveled.

sea captains and ships.
Shanghaiing Days:
The Thrilling Account of 19th Century Hell-Ships, Bucko Mates and Masters, and Dangerous Ports-Of-Call from San Francisco

Richard H. Dillon
In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the American Merchant Marine went into a terrible and tragic decline, and sailors were forced to serve under conditions that were little better than serfdom. Seamen were exploited in wholesale fashion, disfranchised of almost all their civil and human rights, and brutally punished for even minor offenses. Successful skippers had turned into slave drivers, cracking down on the sailors, sometimes even murdering their “hands.”

Though captains were legally prohibited from flogging their crews, they did not hesitate to wield belaying pins, marlin spikes, or their bare fists.

The seamen’s lot became so horrible in this period that entire crews frequently jumped ship when a vessel came into port. One result of this was that new crews had to be kidnaped, crimped, or shanghaied from the unsuspecting populace of the ports. These “impressed” or “hobo” crews were still further conspired against. They often had their wages stolen from them; they were poorly fed and clothed. Their lives became “hell afloat and purgatory ashore.”

Captain James H. Blethen, Master Mariner
(The Maritime Heritage Project)
sea captains and ships.
D. A. Blethen-Levysea captains and ships.

Captain James Cook: A Biographysea captains and ships.
Richard Alexander Hough
Captain James Cook.James Cook, born in 1728, was one of the most celebrated men of his time, the last and the greatest of the romantic navigator/explorers. His voyages in the Royal Navy to the eastern and western seaboards of North America, the North and South Pacific, the Arctic, and the Antarctic brought a new understanding of the worlds geography and of the peoples, flora, and fauna of the lands he discovered.

Richard Hough’s vivid narrative captures all the excitement of this age of discovery and establishes Cook as a link between the vague scientific speculations of the early eighteenth century and the industrial revolution to come. A pioneer in many fields, Cook produced maps of unprecedented accuracy; revolutionized the seaman’s diet, all but eliminating scurvy; and exploded the myth of the Great Southern Continent imagined by earlier geographers and scientists.

Hough consulted numerous archives and traveled in Cook’s wake from Alaska to Tasmania, visiting many of the Pacific islands–including the spot where Cook was stoned to death by cannibals in the Hawaiian archipelago–to produce a comprehensive and immensely readable biography, full of new insights into the life of one of the worlds greatest mariners.

The Bounty:
The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty
sea captains and ships.

Caroline Alexander
Mutiny.sea captains and ships.More than two centuries after Master’s Mate Fletcher Christian led a mutiny against Lieutenant William Bligh on a small, armed transport vessel called Bounty, the true story of this enthralling adventure has become obscured by the legend. Combining vivid characterization and deft storytelling, Caroline Alexander shatters the centuries-old myths surrounding this story.

She shows how, in a desperate attempt to save one man from the gallows and another from ignominy, two powerful families came together and began to create the version of history we know today.

The true story of the mutiny on the Bounty is an epic of duty and heroism, pride and power, and the assassination of a brave man’s honor at the dawn of the Romantic age.

It’s Your Ship:
Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy

D. Michael Abrashoff
The story of Captain D. Michael Abrashoff and his command of USS Benfold has become legendary inside and outside the Navy. Now Abrashoff offers this fascinating tale of top-down change for anyone trying to navigate today’s uncertain business seas. When Captain Abrashoff took over as commander of USS Benfold, a ship armed with every cutting-edge system available, it was like a business that had all the latest technology but only some of the productivity.

Knowing that responsibility for improving performance rested with him, he realized he had to improve his own leadership skills before he could improve his ship. Within months he created a crew of confident and inspired problem-solvers eager to take the initiative and take responsibility for their actions. The slogan on board became “It’s your ship,” and Benfold was soon recognized far and wide as a model of naval efficiency.

How did Abrashoff do it? Against the backdrop of today’s United States Navy, Benfold was a key player in our Persian Gulf fleet. Abrashoff shares his secrets of successful management including:

  • See the ship through the eyes of the crew: By soliciting a sailor’s suggestions, Abrashoff drastically reduced tedious chores that provided little additional value.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate: The more Abrashoff communicated the plan, the better the crew’s performance. His crew would eventually call him “Megaphone Mike,” since they heard from him so often.
  • Create discipline by focusing on purpose: Discipline skyrocketed when Abrashoff’s crew believed that what they were doing was important.
  • Listen aggressively: After learning that many sailors wanted to use the GI Bill, Abrashoff brought a test official aboard the ship-and held the SATs forty miles off the Iraqi coast.

From achieving amazing cost savings to winning the highest gunnery score in the Pacific Fleet, Captain Abrashoff’s extraordinary campaign sent shock waves through the U.S. Navy. It can help you change the course of your ship, no matter where your business battles are fought.

Captain Robert Bully Waterman
(The Maritime Heritage Project)
sea captains and ships.
D. A. Blethen-Levy

sea captains and ships.
Island of the Lost: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the Worldsea captains and ships.
Joan Druett
Auckland Island is a godforsaken place in the middle of the Southern Ocean, 285 miles south of New Zealand. With year-round freezing rain and howling winds, it is one of the most forbidding places in the world. To be shipwrecked there means almost certain death.

In 1864 Captain Thomas Musgrave and his crew of four aboard the schooner Grafton wreck on the southern end of the island. Utterly alone in a dense coastal forest, plagued by stinging blowflies and relentless rain, Captain Musgrave—rather than succumb to this dismal fate—inspires his men to take action. With barely more than their bare hands, they build a cabin and, remarkably, a forge, where they manufacture their tools. Under Musgrave’s leadership, they band together and remain civilized through even the darkest and most terrifying days.

Incredibly, at the same time on the opposite end of the island—twenty miles of impassable cliffs and chasms away—the Invercauld wrecks during a horrible storm. Nineteen men stagger ashore. Unlike Captain Musgrave, the captain of the Invercauld falls apart given the same dismal circumstances. His men fight and split up; some die of starvation, others turn to cannibalism. Only three survive. Musgrave and all of his men not only endure for nearly two years, they also plan their own astonishing escape, setting off on one of the most courageous sea voyages in history.

Using the survivors’ journals and historical records, award-winning maritime historian Joan Druett brings this extraordinary untold story to life, a story about leadership and the fine line between order and chaos.A Sea Captain's Tale.

Rough Passage to London: A Sea Captain’s Tale (A NovelA Sea Captain's Tale.)
Robin Lloyd
Lyme, Connecticut, early nineteenth century. Elisha Ely Morgan is a young farm boy who has witnessed firsthand the terror of the War of 1812. Troubled by a tumultuous home life ruled by the fists of their tempestuous father, Ely’s two older brothers have both left their pastoral boyhoods to seek manhood through sailing. One afternoon, the Morgan family receives a letter with the news that one brother is lost at sea; the other is believed to be dead. Scrimping as much savings as a farm boy can muster, Ely spends nearly every penny he has to become a sailor on a square-rigged ship, on a route from New York to London—a route he hopes will lead to his vanished brother, Abraham.

Learning the brutal trade of a sailor, Ely takes quickly to sea-life, but his focus lies with finding Abraham. Following a series of cryptic clues regarding his brother’s fate, Ely becomes entrenched in a mystery deeper than he can imagine. As he feels himself drawing closer to an answer, Ely climbs the ranks to become a captain, experiences romance, faces a mutiny, meets Queen Victoria, and befriends historical legends such as Charles Dickens in his raucous quest.

Window Glass

A few questions that you may be able to answer…

Firstly, you list the cargo of several ships that carried window glass to San Francisco. Where did this information come from – a citation, if you will. I was a volunteer at the Vancouver Maritime Museum some time ago and sorted through teak boxers full of ships logs – the formal ones submitted to the harbourmaster. Were these or something like that, your source?

Secondly, assuming the source for ships’ cargo is somewhere available, where? Is there some central depository or is it simply finding one, then another?

Thirdly, if you have access to such material, is is possible to sift through that to find other ships carrying window glass. The two examplars from Liverpool and NYC are wonderful, but are there more?

Thanks much for any help you may be able to provide…

Regards, W. A.

Response: Window Glass

The Glassworks of J. H. Hobbs
Brockunier and Co., Wheeling, West Virginia

Glassmaking goes back about 4500 years. Interesting to note that glassmaking processes have evolved quite slowly. Plate glass, i.e. window panes, were still crude during the 1800s. They require complex high-temperature chemical and mechanical processes.

For your purposes, much of my information comes from the California Digital Newspaper Collection — an Excellent FREE research resource:

  1. For a generic search, type in “Window Glass.” Or narrow it down by year for a more focused search.
  2. For cargo, just type in “cargo” or “importations”, i.e. On October 22, 1870, the Daily Alta California notes: “PORT STANLEY – Per Hamilton – . . . 7978 cs 95 envelopes window glass, etc.”
  1. Above: Ad for window glass: August 31, 1866, Daily Alta California, San Francisco — on the first page of the newspaper: includes Window Glass, Crystal Sheet, Plate Glass, Mirrors. A duplicate ad is in the September 2, 1866 Daily Alta California.

Stories of glass in America: Glass in America and here: Window Glass, which has an article on curved windows, which were installed in many San Francisco Victorian homes. We grew up with curved glass windows that were made in, I believe, Philadelphia.

Lloyd’s of London — listed on this page: Lloyd’s of London. For ships they insured, they maintained lists of cargo.  Lloyd’s has been around since the 1600s, they are thorough, and they  have substantial archives. Story of Lloyd’s of London

Corning Museum of Glass

From Corning Museum of Glass:  Glass manufacturers had spent centuries learning how to make flat glass. Now, they wanted to bend it into complex shapes—without marring its surface. Anything that touched the surface of the hot glass could leave a mark.The first curved windows were made by slumping. A glass sheet was placed in a gravity mold that touched only its edges, then was heated from above until it sagged into shape.

Slumping worked for windows with simple curves, but it was of no use for making the more complex shapes that car designers demanded.

For its 1984 Firebird, General Motors asked for an exotically contoured window. Until that time, there was no way to make the complex curves without touching the glass. American glassmaker Libby-Owens-Ford applied for the: Original Patent Application No. 865107 For a Method and Apparatus for Bending Glass Sheets. (Ohio, USA)Curved Glass.. It tried press-bending the precisely heated glass in an experimental full-contact mold made of a high-tech ceramic. The process worked. For the first time, glassmakers could totally control the shape of a window without marring its surface.

History of Glass, European School.
History of Glass
European School
Stained Glass Window by Tiffany.
Tiffany Stained Glass Window

Historical Fiction

Featured Historical Fiction: June 2014

My Name Is Resolute
Nancy Ann Turner

My Name is Resolute.My Name is Resolute.The year is 1729, and Resolute Talbot and her siblings are captured by pirates, taken from their family in Jamaica, and brought to the New World. Resolute and her sister are sold into slavery in colonial New England and taught the trade of spinning and weaving. When Resolute finds herself alone in Lexington, Massachusetts, she struggles to find her way in a society that is quick to judge a young woman without a family. As the seeds of rebellion against England grow, Resolute is torn between following the rules and breaking free. Resolute’s talent at the loom places her at the center of an incredible web of secrecy that helped drive the American Revolution. Scheduled for release February 17, 2015.

Orphan Train
Christina Baker Kline

North and South (Trilogy: Part One)
John Jakes

The Secret Life of William Shakespeare
Jude Morgan

William Shakespeare.William Shakespeare.There are so few established facts about how the son of a glove maker from Warwickshire became one of the greatest writers of all time that some people doubt he could really have written so many astonishing plays. We know that he married Anne Hathaway, who was pregnant and six years older than he, at the age of eighteen, and that one of their children died of the plague. We know that he left Stratford to seek his fortune in London, and eventually succeeded. He was clearly an unwilling craftsman, ambitious actor, resentful son, almost good-enough husband. But when and how did he also become a genius?

Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (Outlander Series)
Diana Galbadon

The Art Forger: A Novel
B. A. Shapirol

Almost twenty-five years after the infamous art heist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum—still the largest unsolved art theft in history—one of the stolen Degas paintings is delivered to the Boston studio of a young artist. Claire Roth has entered into a Faustian bargain with a powerful gallery owner by agreeing to forge the Degas in exchange for a one-woman show in his renowned gallery. But as she begins her work, she starts to suspect that this long-missing masterpiece—the very one that had been hanging at the Gardner for one hundred years—may itself be a forgery. The Art Forger is about seeing—and not-seeing secrets that lie beneath the canvas.

Til the Well Runs Dry.‘Til the Well Runs Dry
Lauren Francis-Sharma

Starred Review:  On Trinidad, in 1943, Marcia Garcia, a splendidly talented, 16-year-old seamstress, is struggling to feed young twin boys left in her charge. Remarkably accomplished first-time novelist Francis-Sharma makes it clear on page one that Marcia is strong, courageous, and resourceful. She is also French, Portuguese, Spanish, black, and beautiful, and she has a galvanizing effect on a young, confident Indian policeman, Farouk Karam. Their love should have been joyous, and they should have been able to raise their four children in harmony. Instead, their relationship is poisoned by racism, poverty, gossip, and corruption.

Cavendon Hall
Barbara Taylor Bradford

Cavendon Hall.

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes an epic saga of intrigue and mystique set in Edwardian England. Cavendon Hall is home to two families, the aristocratic Inghams and the Swanns who serve them. Charles Ingham, the sixth Earl of Mowbray, lives there with his wife Felicity and their six children. Walter Swann, the premier male of the Swann family, is valet to the earl. His wife Alice, a clever seamstress who is in charge of the countess’s wardrobe, also makes clothes for the four daughters. For centuries, these two families have lived side-by-side, beneath the backdrop of the imposing Yorkshire manor. Lady Daphne, the most beautiful of the Earl’s daughters, is about to be presented at court when a devastating event changes her life and threatens the Ingham name.

The Ashford Affair
Lauren Willig

Hild: A Novel
Nicola Griffith

A brilliant sweeping historical novel about the rise of the most powerful woman of the Middle Ages: Hild. In seventh-century Britain, small kingdoms are merging, frequently and violently. A new religion is coming ashore; the old gods are struggling, their priests worrying. Hild is the king’s youngest niece, and she has a glimmering mind and a natural, noble authority. She will become a fascinating woman and one of the pivotal figures of the Middle Ages: Saint Hilda of Whitby.


Seafaring Books for Kids


Treasure Hunters

Treasure Hunters.
James Patterson

Treasure Hunters.
The Kidd siblings have grown up diving down to shipwrecks and traveling the world, helping their famous parents recover everything from swords to gold doubloons from the bottom of the ocean. But after their parents disappear n the job, the kids are suddenly thrust into the biggest treasure hunt of their lives.

They’ll have to work together to defeat dangerous pirates and dodge the hot pursuit of an evil treasure hunting rival, all while following cryptic clues to unravel the mystery of what really happened to their parents–and find out if they’re still alive.


Ghost Ship

(Paula Wiseman Books)
Mary Higgins Clark

Thomas loved his summer visits to his grandmother’s on Cape Cod.

Ghost Ship.He spent hours wondering about the sailing ships of the past and imagining their stories. He dreamed of being on a sailing ship himself. One afternoon after a night of terrible thunderstorms, Thomas finds, deep in the sand, a weathered, old-fashioned belt buckle. When he picks it up, a boy his own age, Silas Rich, who was a cabin boy on a ship called the Monomoy that sailed almost 250 years ago, appears. Suddenly the world of sailing ships is very near as Silas tells his tale.

Beloved and bestselling author Mary Higgins Clark tells a story of mystery and adventure that will transport readers to a time and place beyond their imaginings in her first book for children. Wendell Minor’s inspired paintings make a time long ago very real.