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Iron dawn : the Monitor, the Merrimack, and the Civil War sea battle that changed history
2016
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Historian Snow (I Invented the Modern Age) captures the drama of the most well-known naval confrontation of the Civil War in this swift-moving narrative. Snow argues that the creation and immediate deployment of ironclad vessels symbolized the modernity of the war. The idea for these new ships evolved with South Carolina's secession in December 1860. After Maj. Robert Anderson of the U.S. Army opted to hold Fort Sumter in defiance of South Carolina's demands, enterprising Charleston carpenters built an iron-reinforced floatable gun platform to blast away at Sumter. Then the race was on for both sides to create a steam-powered, metal-clad ship that would be nearly indestructible. Snow neatly sets the scene for these events, ratcheting up the tension of this early arms race that resulted in the March 1862 confrontation between the Monitor and the Merrimack at Hampton Roads. Crisp characterizations bring immediacy to the story, especially thanks to the affecting letters between Monitor paymaster William Keeler and his wife, Anna. Though Snow's conclusions about the importance of the battle aren't novel and his historical lens is narrowly focused, this is an accessible and enjoyable account. Illus. Agent: Emma Sweeney, Emma Sweeney Agency. (Nov.)

Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly Annex.

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Describes the naval battle that changed the course of the Civil War and the future of sea power, when the North built a complicated, innovative warship out of iron, the Monitor, in record time, to combat the Merrimack. - (Baker & Taylor)

A popular historian describes the exciting naval battle that changed the course of the Civil War, when the North built a complicated, innovative warship out of iron, the Monitor, in record time, to combat the Merrimack. - (Baker & Taylor)

From acclaimed popular historian Richard Snow, who 'writes with verve and a keen eye' (The New York Times Book Review), the thrilling story of the naval battle that not only changed the Civil War but the future of all sea power.

No single sea battle has had more far-reaching consequences than the one fought in the harbor at Hampton Roads, Virginia, in March 1862. The Confederacy, with no fleet of its own, built an iron fort containing ten heavy guns on the hull of a captured Union frigate named the Merrimack. The North got word of the project when it was already well along, and, in desperation, commissioned an eccentric inventor named John Ericsson to build the Monitor, an entirely revolutionary iron warship'at the time, the single most complicated machine ever made. Abraham Lincoln himself was closely involved with the ship's design. Rushed through to completion in just 100 days, it mounted only two guns, but they were housed in a shot-proof revolving turret. The ship hurried south from Brooklyn (and nearly sank twice on the voyage), only to arrive to find the Merrimack had arrived blazing that morning, destroyed half the Union fleet, and would be back to finish the job the next day. When she returned, the Monitor was there. She fought the Merrimack to a standstill, and saved the Union cause. As soon as word of the battle spread, Great Britain'the foremost sea power of the day'ceased work on all wooden ships. A thousand-year-old tradition ended, and the path to the naval future opened.

Richly illustrated with photos, maps, and engravings, Iron Dawn is the irresistible story of these incredible, intimidating war machines. Historian Richard Snow brings to vivid life the tensions of the time, explaining how wooden and ironclad ships worked, maneuvered, battled, and sank. This full account of the Merrimack and Monitor has never been told in such immediate, compelling detail. - (Simon and Schuster)

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