Sea History 155 - Summer 2016

Page 62

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building a nti-ship mines to creating a manned underwater vessel to deliver explosives to a target. It became known as the Singer Secret Service Corps after its leader, Edgar Collins Singer, a nephew of the well-known sewing machine m a nufacturer. The gro up's mines sa nk or d a maged dozens of Union ships, including some formidable ironclads, but it was Hunley that truly pu shed the technological envelope. Powered by a hand-cranked propeller, it could tow a mine or use a bow-mo unted pole to embed one into the side of a wooden ship. It was also a death trap. More than a dozen crewmen, including its namesake Captain Horace Hunley, died when it twice sa nk during training runs. "Tis more dangerous to those who use it than to e n emy," observed one Rebel general. And while its one-off sinking of a warship sent shockwaves through the Union navy, the war ended before Southern ya rds co uld complete more prototypes (Ragan's research sugges ts several were in production). Confederate Saboteurs is meticulously documented and features thirty-six pages of photographs and other il lustration s. And it's likely the las t word on the birth of subma rine warfare. DEAN ]OB B

Halifax, Nova Scotia

A History of the World in Sixteen Shipwrecks by Stewart Gordon (For e E dge; University Press ofNew England, Lebanon, N H , 2015, 225pp, notes, index, ISBN 9781-61168-540-4; $29.95 hc) It is a testament to the ubiquity of seafa ring and nautical endeavors in human history that Stewart Gordon can, starting nearly 6000 BCE, take the reader on a journey all the way into the present day using maritime ac tivity as the common thread. Combined the sixteen vignettes p rovide a thoughtful synthesis of archaeological, historical, economic, cultural, and geographical information into a narrative both captivating and fund a me ntally critical for understanding our human pas t, a reminder that water co nn ects-not dividescivilizations. Though the tide m ay indicate a particularisti c review of individual a rchaeological sites, Gordon instead uses these

SEA HISTORY 155, SUMMER 20 16