Monday, March 11, 2019

Booknotes: The Leviathan

New Arrival:
The Leviathan: The Greatest Untold Story of the Civil War by Paul Stack (Archway Pub, 2019).

Yes, clearly this is a novel. I guess there's plenty of blame to go around. The publicist who contacted me probably didn't read the review policy page and I didn't read the press email all the way to the end where the final paragraph mentioned it was historical fiction. Anyway, I approved the submission and every arrival gets a Booknotes entry so...

In The Leviathan, "a historical novel set during the Civil War, Paul Stack makes the case that this great ship was the means by which the South could have achieved economic independence from the North."

"The Leviathan was considered to be a marvel of engineering and the most advanced ship in the ocean. The shareholders who invested in the ship’s construction believed it would be the most profitable ship the world had ever seen. Better known as The Great Eastern, the Leviathan was perhaps the greatest engineering feat in the mid-19th century. It was designed to accommodate ten thousand troops and four thousand passengers. The ship’s hull was painted black, which made it appear sinister, and even larger than it was. The ship’s destiny to compromise the North if it ever reached the shores of The Chesapeake Bay, however, was thwarted by a complicated scheme to save the North from the ravages this massive ship could inflict."

"In September 1861, on the cusp of a winter storm in the north Atlantic, three men altered the fate of the world by pulling off one of the greatest acts of American espionage. Lincoln’s election 10 months earlier guaranteed hostilities between the free and slave states, the seemingly inevitable march to war watched closely by the Eu­ropean powers. England stood alone as the first modern industrial nation, the birthplace of machines that revolutionized the world. The Leviathan was the largest of these ma­chines. It was a giant iron steamship with a ghastly history, a mechanical marvel 60 years ahead of its time but a financial failure, a ship that the Scientific Amer­ican warned “could run down the whole of the largest steamers in any other fleet, one after another, without firing a single shot.”"

"The mission of the three Americans was to stop this Leviathan from entering a southern port without anyone knowing what transpired, ever. This is a story of treason, espionage, and geopolitics; a family sundered by the conflict between the States, and of British capitalists lusting to dismember the United States for their own benefit."

The book's website [here] lays bare all of the author's research (the site includes a downloadable pdf source document of over 1,200 pages) and displays additional features like an extensive image gallery and links to other Great Eastern related items of interest.

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