Monday, February 8, 2021

Booknotes: Breaking the Blockade

New Arrival:
Breaking the Blockade: The Bahamas during the Civil War by Charles D. Ross (UP of Mississippi, 2020).

Only a short distance from major southern ports (and you might also recall that the shark in Jaws 4 got there from Amity Island in no time at all), the ostensibly neutral Bahamas—with the island chain's expansive oceanic trade facilities centered at Nassau—were ideally situated as a transshipment point for the lucrative exchange of American cotton for European arms, supplies, and equipment. Most aspects of blockade running and blockade enforcement has been examined at some length in the literature, but Charles Ross's Breaking the Blockade: The Bahamas during the Civil War is the first published (at least that I am aware of) in-depth scholarly examination of the most prominent people and events of Civil War-era Nassau.

From the description: "Boats worked their way back and forth from the Confederacy to Nassau and England, and everyone from scoundrels to naval officers wanted a piece of the action. Poor men became rich in a single transaction, and dances and drinking—from the posh Royal Victoria hotel to the boarding houses lining the harbor—were the order of the day. British, United States, and Confederate sailors intermingled in the streets, eyeing each other warily as boats snuck in and out of Nassau. But it was all to come crashing down as the blockade finally tightened and the final Confederate ports were captured." The book "focuses on the political dynamics and tensions that existed between the United States Consular Service, the governor of the Bahamas, and the representatives of the southern and English firms making a large profit off the blockade."

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