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success. H e fi rs t combined his talents by expediting fre ight -personally accompanying cargo across the Isthmus of Panam a, which cut weeks off the all-water route aro und Cape H orn. Amon g va rio us pursu its, w hich included work as a lumber trader, general merchant, and inves tor, W hi te worked fo r a stint as m ate on the sm all paddlewheel steam er Gold Hunter. Martin q uo tes extensively from W hite's jou rnal fro m h is time onboard, giving the reader a close look at the d ay-to-day life in the early Wes t Coast steamboat trade. Martin d oes not shy away from the darker aspects of early San Francisco society, including a fascinating acco unt of White's involve ment in the m ob rule perpetrated by the "Committee of Vigilance" that preceded judicial and legislative order in California. The book's strength com es fro m Mart in's access to the W hites' journals a nd fa m ily letters, especially those contained in the previo usly unknown pape rs of Rebecca Gardiner W hite. In 1854, the newly ma rried Rebecca took the Pa nama ro ute to Califo rnia, at a ti me when such voyages were still ha rrow ing and dangerous, particul arly fo r wo men . In San Fra ncisco, she fo und her place among other New E ngland tra nsplants, and her intimate correspo ndence with fa mily in M aine provides de tails a nd backgro und for much of the book . Non-academics w ill enj oy M a rtin's narration of the W hites' adventures-some of which are t ruly h arrow ing-and fi nd his attention to the particulars of do mes tic life in ea rly Cali fo rnia fascinating. O n the other h and , ma ny readers, however entertained, w ill be put off by the author's tone, wh ich indulges in excessive first-p erson facetious asides and unusual nar rative devices, such as repeatedly imagi ning "out lo ud " how fa m o us fi lm d irectors of the 1940s and '50s m igh t h ave shot vario us historical epi sodes. Employing common typographic conve ntions such as t he use of indented text for long quotations and trimmi ng or el im inating a number of ta ngential sections wo uld have clarified many confusing passages. Further, an edito r sho uld have checked Martin's irri tating tend e ncy to freq uentl y refer to Sa n Fra ncisco as "the Bay City." Academic readers w ill find much of

SEA HISTORY 15 1, SUMM ER 2015

value in Seeing the Eliphant, notwithstanding its Aaws. The Rebecca Gardiner White p apers a re a t reas u re of info rmatio n o n nineteenth-century do mestic life at a pivotal moment in A merican history. The letters and jo urnals a re frequen tly quoted th ro ughout the book, wh ich is well indexed and contains complete and useful documentation. The author's appa rent condescension towa rds women's w riting is unfor tunate and does not well serve his project. H e is versed in the schola rl y literature about nineteenrh-century wo men's diaries a nd letters but complains that "most women's journals of the period reveal little m ore tha n mundani ties, such as daily weather repo rts." Seeing the Eliphant succeeds in telling a fa miliar tale through a new, fresh, and exci ting lens. The maritime story is an overlooked chap ter of the Gold Rush m igration to Califo rnia, and the American fa mily narrative revealed by the Gardiner-White papers will interest and entertain both general and specialist readers. COLIN D EWEY

Vallejo, Califo rnia

In The Shadow ofthe Alabama: The British Foreign Office and the American Civil War by Renata Eley Long (Naval I ns titute Press, A nnap olis, M D , 201 5, 272pp, illus, notes, biblio, index, ISBN 9781-61251-836-7; $37.95hc) CSS A labama, a commerce raider built in Scotland fo r the Confederate States of A m erica, h as been the obj ect of controve rsy for over a century and a h alf, and promises to rem ain a popular subject for naval historians and students of the A merican C ivil War. In the Shadow of the Alabama is historia n Renata Eley Long's effort to untangle the web encapsulating the affair by studying the vas t array of people of importance and influence who were involved. At the center of the Alabama controversy stood Victor Buckley- a clerk in the British Foreign O ffi ce, a clerk w ith a ristocratic standing, a clerk whose godmother was none other than Queen Victoria. It is w idely ass umed th at Buckley's access to sensitive info rmation, combined with his frie ndships w ith Con federate age nts in Great Britain, led him to warn those agents of the impending detention of their prized

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The Best in Bunkside Reading from Blooms bury

SAM JEFFERSON

WWW.BLOOM SBU RY.CO M Ava il able wherever hooks are sold

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Sea History 151 - Summer 2015  

10 Effie M. Morrissey in the Pacific-a Letter from Sea, 1928, by Harry Whitney; introduction by Chester Brigham • 16 Lafayette's Hermione:...

Sea History 151 - Summer 2015  

10 Effie M. Morrissey in the Pacific-a Letter from Sea, 1928, by Harry Whitney; introduction by Chester Brigham • 16 Lafayette's Hermione:...

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