2016 Reading List

the-sum-of-all-fears2016 was a big year for reading and re-reading Tom Clancy novels. It had been  a while since I had read his books. I was amazed all over again at Clancy’s military and espionage knowledge in addition to his story telling skills.  In some cases I had seen the movie, but not read the book. I made the assumption that the movie followed the book pretty closely. Boy, was I wrong! As usual the books were much better with far more depth.

The “campus” series featuring Jack Ryan Jr. was especially good. Clancy published The Teeth of the Tiger in 2003. He wrote the second book in the series, Dead or Alive, with Grand Blackwood. He wrote the next two books in the series with Blackwood but wrote Vector Threat with Mark Greaney. Since Clancy passed away in 2013 Blackwood and Greaney have continued his Clancy’s work by writing more stories featuring the characters Clancy created.

In February I read a wonderful non-fiction book titled, Sailing Alone Around the World by Captain Joshua Slocum. It’s the story of Slocum’s journey around the world between 1895 and 1898. I was inspired enough by the story to plot the stops on his trip on Google Maps and write a Blog article about the book.

I purchased a book by my old favorite, Alistair MacLean, named The Last Frontier. According to Wikipedia, the book was published in 1959 and was released in the US with the title, The Secret Ways. I may have even read it decades ago when I first discovered Alistair MacLean. The story took place in Budapest during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. British agent Michael Reynolds, is on a mission to just-one-damned-thing-after-anotherrescue a professor being help against his will by the Communist government.

Another great discovery in 2016 was The Chronicles of St Mary’s by Jodi Taylor. It’s a series about modern time traveling historians that go back in time to observe the past. Everything that can go wrong usually does, but somehow they make it back, more or less in one piece. You can also learn a lot about history in a fun way since the characters visit some pivotal events and battles. The stories are fun and funny most of the time, but at times the author yanked the old “heart strings” and made you feel sad.

I enjoyed a series by James L. Nelson that took place during “viking age Ireland” fin-gallabout 852 AD. Book one is titled, Fin Gall. The story follows Thorgrim Nightwolf, a raider from Norway, on his way to the “Viking longphort there, known as Dubh-Linn

I had heard the recent hit movie, The Revenant, was based on a book. I never made it to the theater to see it, but I did purchase the book. It was awesome! It is based in the true story of Rocky Mt. fur trapper Hugh Glass. Glass had survived a brutal bear attack. Fellow expedition members that were caring for him stole his weapons and abandon him to die of his wounds or at the hands of attacking Indians, whichever cam first.

Decades ago, I had enjoyed several Wilbur Smith’s novels set in Southern Africa. I discovered he has a new series of books that takes place in ancient Egypt, which is a fascinating time in history. The first book I got was titled Desert God. Taita, advisor to the Pharaoh, is on a mission to form an alliance with the king of Crete and defeat the Hyksos, who had invaded lower Egypt.

I finished the year reading another book in the series titled, The Quest. The mighty Nile river has nearly dried up and the people of Egypt are dying. Taita is sent on a mission to find the source of the Nile and discover what evil has caused the river to dry up.

  1. The Sum of All Fears – Tom Clancy
  2. Clear and Present Danger – Tom Clancy
  3. Architect of Destiny -Amy DuBoff
  4. Veil of Reality-Amy DuBoff
  5. Bonds of Resolve -Amy DuBoff
  6. The Show – John A. Heldt
  7. Sailing Alone Around the World – Joshua Slocum
  8. Command Authority – Tom Clancy and Mark Greaney
  9. The Teeth of the Tiger – Tom Clancy
  10. Dead or Alive – Tom Clancy and Grant Blackwood
  11. The Last Frontier – Alistair MacLean
  12. Locked On – Tom Clancy
  13. Threat Vector – Tom Clancy
  14. Wood’s Relic – Steven Becker
  15. Patriot Games – Tom Clancy
  16. One Damn Thing After Another (The Chronicles of St Mary’s) – Jodi Taylor
  17. A Symphony of Echoes (The Chronicles of St Mary’s) – Jodi Taylor
  18. A Second Chance (The Chronicles of St Mary’s) – Jodi Taylor
  19. A Trail Through Time (The Chronicles of St Mary’s) – Jodi Taylor
  20. The Whalemen – Edouard A. Stackpole
  21. No Time Like the Past (The Chronicles of St Mary’s) – Jodi Taylor
  22. What Could Possibly Go Wrong? (The Chronicles of St Mary’s) – Jodi Taylor
  23. Cardinal of the Kremlin – Tom Clancy
  24. Under Fire (Jack Ryan Jr. Series) – Grant Blackwood
  25. The Coral Thief – Rebecca Stott
  26. Fin Gall – James L. Nelson
  27. Dubh-linn – James L. Nelson
  28. The Lord of Vik-lo – James L. Nelson
  29. Glendalough Fair – James L. Nelson
  30. Night Wolf – James L. Nelson
  31. Total Recall – Philip K. Dick
  32. The Atlantis Gene – A..G. Riddle
  33. Wood’s Reef – Steven Becker
  34. The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge – Michael Punke
  35. Desert God – Wilbur Smith
  36. Ships and Stings and Wedding Rings – Jodi Taylor
  37. The Trespass – Scott Hunter
  38. The First Deadly Sin – Laurence Sanders
  39. Landfall – Jerry Aubin
  40. The Quest – Wilbur Smith

Sailing Alone Around the World by Joshua Slocum

I just finished reading the book Sailing Alone Around the World by Joshua Slocum. As the title indicates, he was the first person to circumnavigate the earth while sailing alone.  By no means did he take the most direct route. He pretty much followed the trade winds and major currents.

He made plenty of stops, which made for an interesting story. He would often stay for a week or more at places he stopped at. In some cases it was because he enjoyed his time with the people he met. In other cases he was waiting for the trade winds and weather to improve. It took him about three years to complete the 46,000 mile journey.

I created a Google Map with his major stops and dates that he arrived at each place.

Examples of his adventures include:

  • Early in the trip Captain Slocum got so sick that he imagined he spoke to the ghost of the Pilot of Christopher Columbus’s ship, the Pinta.
  • His ship was chased by pirates off the coast of Morocco. Watch  Colin Hazlehurst’s recreation of the trip using Google Earth.
  • The Spray ran around on a beach in Uruguay.
  • Natives in the Strait of Magellan tried to board the Spray at night. They left when they stepped on the carpet tacks he had spread on the deck to surprise them. Later they chased him in their canoes and he had to shoot his rifle at them in order to scare them off.
  • He survived a horrendous storm on the west end of the Strait of Magellan near Cape Pillar and got blown south. He had to sail back to Punta Arenas (a port in the Strait) then try again to sail through the maze of island into the Pacific.
  • His sails got shredded in the Pacific Ocean during a storm.

As I mentioned earlier, Slocum made visited many remote and exotic places along the way in addition to major ports of call. Many of the people he met had heard of his journey and were happy to invite him to stay. He met Fanny Stevenson (the wife of author Robert Louis Stevenson) at Samoa. He met the explorer Henry M. Stanley in East Africa and many other prominent people of the era.

I am amazed at the amount of information and resources about the book and Captain Slocum’s journey are the Web.

  • There is a website with the domain name joshuaslocum.com about his life and the journey.
  • I found a wonderful 45 minute documentary video about his life, the Spray and his journey on YouTube.
  • I discovered a wonderful YouTube playlist showing the Spray in Google Earth sailing each leg of the journey.

I recommend this wonderful story to anyone who enjoys history, sailing or adventure stories.

2015 Reading List

AmazoniaIt was another good year for reading during which I finished 46 books. I enjoyed stories from several new authors like James Rollins, Brad Meltzer and John Heldt. I read more from some of my favorite authors like Dan Brown, Bernard Cornwell, William Dietrich, Stephen King and Tom Clancy.

Inferno by Dan Brown was a great book to start the year with. It is another Robert Langdon story and takes place in Italy. I learned a lot about many of the famous art works, buildings and architecture of Florence and Venice. If you enjoyed the Da Vinci Code, you will love this novel.

I discovered author James Rollins this year. His writing reminds me of Michael Crichton, which is high praise. The teaser on his Website for the book Amazonia says, “The Rand scientific expedition entered the lush wilderness of the Amazon and never returned. Years later, one of its members has stumbled out of the world’s most inhospitable rainforest: a former Special Forces soldier – scarred, mutilated, terrified, and mere hours from death – who went in with one arm missing…and came out with both intact.” The story was just as fantastic as it sounds. I went on to read five other James Rollins novels during the year.

StormchildThe Fort by Bernard Cornwell tells the story of the Penobscot Expedition of 1779 during the American Revolutionary War. It is the story of an attack by the militia of the Province of Massachusetts Bay to take a British fort in Castine, Maine. The expedition and attack was a major screw-up. The American fleet was destroyed and the assault force ended up making a long journey over land to Massachusetts. Be sure to read my Blog article about the book.

I also discovered Cornwell’s “sailing thrillers” which takes place in the present day, unlike many of his novels. Of the three I read I enjoyed Stormchild the best. The Amazon Website description reads, “A British yachtsman sails to Cape Horn to reclaim his daughter from eco-terrorists.” But of course the plot and story has more depth than that one sentence description.

I’m ashamed to say that I got behind in reading Tom Clancy novels. I sure made up for it this year when a good friend recommended The Bear and the Dragon, featuring John Clark and Jack Ryan. It was so good that later in the year I went on to read Debt of Honor and Executive Order. Executive Order picks up right where Debt of Honor ended so it read like one long novel rather than two. Both are fantastic stories!

112263 Book CoverOne of my favorite stories of the year was 11/22/63 by Stephen King. King is another author that I had not read anything from in years. Instead of a horror story this is a time travel story. Jake Epping find a way to go back in time to 1958 and finds he can change the lives of people in the present by changing events in past. He ends up undertaking the difficult task to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, hoping that it would change the world for the better. It’s a great story and has become my new favorite Stephen King novel.

In December a friend lent me the book, The Journey by John A. Heldt. It’s the second book in his Northwest Passage series. After the unexpected death of her husband after a tough marriage, a 49 year old women returns to her hometown for a high school reunion. After visiting an room in a mysterious old house in town, she finds herself back in 1979. She encounters her younger self and has the opportunity influence the path she takes in life. It turned out to be a great story. Since I find the concept of time travel interesting I was hooked on his time travel stories and ended up reading three other books in the series.

  1. Inferno – Dan Brown
  2. The Temple of the Winds – Terry Goodkind
  3. Firefight – Brandon Sanderson
  4. Amazonia – James Rollins
  5. Sandstorm – James Rollins
  6. Altar of Eden – James Rollins
  7. Soul of the Fire – Terry Goodkind (Did not finish)
  8. Ice Hunt – James Rollins
  9. Deep Black – Stephen Coonts
  10. Subterranean – James Rollins
  11. The Fort – Bernard Cornwell
  12. The Roman Hat Mystery – Ellery Queen
  13. The Inner Circle – Brad Meltzer
  14. The Recollections of Rifleman Harris – Benjamin Randell Harris
  15. Piranha (Oregon Files) – Clive Cussler
  16. Elantris – Brandon Sanderson
  17. The Fifth Assassin – Brad Meltzer
  18. Scoundrel – Bernard Cornwell
  19. On Writing – Stephen King
  20. Stormchild – Bernard Cornwell
  21. A Bone in the Throat – Anthony Bourdain
  22. Dourado (Dane Maddock Adventure) – David Wood
  23. Crackdown – Bernard Cornwell
  24. The Lightening Stones – Jack Du Brul
  25. The Bear and the Dragon – Tom Clancy
  26. Grey Lady – Paul Kemprecos
  27. Dragon Seed – Pearl S. Buck
  28. The Martin – Andy Weir
  29. The Einstein Papers – Craig Dirgo
  30. The Tesla Documents – Craig Dirgo
  31. The Christos Parchment – Craig Dirgo
  32. Hadrian’s Wall – William Dietrich
  33. Adventure – Jack London
  34. The Sea Wolf – Jack London
  35. Scourge of God – William Dietrich
  36. 11/22/63 – Stephen King
  37. Getting Back – William Dietrich
  38. The Pharaoh’s Secret – Clive Cussler
  39. Debt of Honor – Tom Clancy
  40. Executive Order – Tom Clancy
  41. The Door Into Summer – Robert Heinlein ( re-read)
  42. Without Remorse – Tom Clancy
  43. The Journey – John A. Heldt
  44. The Mine – John A. Heldt
  45. The Fire – John A. Heldt
  46. For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemingway

Recollections of Rifleman Harris, (old 95th)

Rifleman Harris book coverBack in the summer I read an interesting historical non-fiction book titled, Recollections of Rifleman Harris, (old 95th). It’s the memoir of  Benjamin Randell Harris during his service the British Army during the Peninsular War Campaign of the Napoleonic Wars.

I downloaded this book from Google Books (for free) because I read that author, Bernard Cornwell, used this memoir as inspiration for the Richard Sharpe series. Since I have enjoyed many of the books in the series, I was curious to read the “source” material.

Rifleman Harris shares his experiences while participating in the 1807 Bombardment of Copenhagen, the Peninsula War in 1808 and the Walcheren Campaign (Netherlands) in 1809. After reading this story I was able to see where Cornwell used Harris’ experiences for his research and story inspiration.

Rifleman Harris first saw action during the Bombardment of Copenhagen. In the book, Sharpe’s Prey, Richard also participates in the 1807 Bombardment of Copenhagen.

In 1808 Harris was sent to Portugal during the Peninsular War Campaign and saw action fighting the French at Rolica and Vimeiro. In the book Sharpe’s Rifles, Sharpe also fights against the French at Roliça and Vimeiro.

I would highly recommend this book, especially if you are fan of Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe series.

Resources

Wikipedia Article: The Recollections of Rifleman Harris

Wikipedia Article: Sharpe (novel series)

Full Text eBook: https://archive.org/details/recollectionsofr00harr

The Fort by Bernard Cornwell

I just finished The Fort by Bernard Cornwell. It’s based on the historic battle between the British and American forces from Massachusetts in 1779. The British captured the village of Castine, Maine and started building a fort with the goal of establishing the colony of New Ireland. The Colony of Massachusetts created the Penobscot Expedition to attack the fort and remove the British. The American forces failed miserably.

The story was no “cliff hanger” since I read the history and know how the battle ended. However, it was interesting to read about the leadership issues and bad decisions that led to the expedition’s embarrassing failure.

The Fort by Bernard CornwellThe Wikipedia article tells us, “The Americans landed troops in late July and attempted to establish a siege of Fort George in a series of actions that were seriously hampered by disagreements over control of the expedition between land forces commander Brigadier General Solomon Lovell and the expedition’s overall commander, Commodore Dudley Saltonstall, who was subsequently dismissed from the Navy for ineptness and failure to effectively prosecute the mission.”

When the American forces arrived, the British had not yet finished building Fort George. They were as vulnerable as they were ever going to be. The American forces should have attacked right away.

General Lovell was convinced that he could not attack without naval support from Commodore Saltonstall to engage the British ships in the harbor. Commodore Saltonstall would not attack the British ships in the harbor because he was afraid of cannon fire from the fort and lack of room to maneuver his ships in the confines of the harbor.

General Lovell made a pretty good move by taking the high ground near Fort George and capturing a British artillery battery on Cross Island ( now named Nautilus Island). He screwed up big time when he dug in for a short siege rather than attack right after establishing the beach head. Commodore Saltonstall eventually agreed to attack the British ships in the harbor if Lovell would launch a coordinated land attack on the fort. Saltonstall had just started the navel attack when he got word that the British reinforcements had been sighted in Penobscot Bay. He ordered his ships to turn around at the last minute and prepared to retreat up the Penobscot River. General Lovell was wise enough to abort the land attack and get the troops back to the ships just in time.

The Wikipedia article says, “A committee of inquiry blamed the American failure on poor coordination between land and sea forces and on Commodore Saltonstall’s failure to engage the British naval forces. Saltonstall was declared to be primarily responsible for the debacle, and he was court-martialed, found guilty, and dismissed from military service.” and that, “Peleg Wadsworth, who mitigated the damage by organizing a retreat, was not charged in the court martial.”

One of the interesting facts I picked up while reading this books is that Paul Revere (of the midnight ride) was a member of the Penobscot Expedition. In fact, he was in command of the artillery. As Cornwell tells the story, Revere only played a minor part of the leadership problem that doomed the expedition. However, he did not conduct himself as well as he could have. Perhaps he recognized the growing problems and wanted to make it out alive.

Revere and his men were put ashore on the west bank of the Penobscot River. He had to return to Boston by land, which was a long trek in 1779. The Wikipedia article tells us, “Paul Revere, who commanded the artillery in the expedition, was accused of disobedience and cowardice. This resulted in his dismissal from the militia, even though he was later cleared of the charges.”

Previous to reading this book I didn’t know about this battle, so I learned something new about both Maine and Revolutionary War history.

2014 Reading List

It has been another interesting year of reading. I enjoyed some novels from a few favorite authors. I also “discovered” a few new authors to add to my favorites list.

One of the authors I “discovered” this year is Judson Roberts and his Strongbow series. The description from Amazon.com tells us, “an epic tale of one man’s unstoppable quest for justice and vengeance that carries him across the 9th century world of the Vikings.” It’s obvious that Judson Roberts has done his research and extreamly knowledgeable about Danish and “Viking” history and society of the 9th century. The series is as good as Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Series.

Since reading the first book in the series in 2013, The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, I was eagerly awaiting the second one titled, Words of Radiance, released in March of 2014. It was just as good, if not better than The Way of Kings. I am eagerly awaiting book three.

I finally got around to reading  book Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. I have been a big fan of  his show, No Reservations, for years. Strangely enough, I had not read any of his books.  The book was really good. He is a very good writer. The book provided some insightful background to his shows. I also learned a lot about the restaurant industry. I have a new appreciation how hard it is to work in a restaurant.

I continued to enjoy Paul Kemperkos novels about Aristotle Socarides during the fist half of the year. While on vacation in Key Largo in July, I started reading the The Emerald Scepter thinking it was another Aristotle Socarides mystery.  I was pleasantly surprised that he created a new character named Matt Hawkins. The story is modern day adventure thriller about solving a mystery from the past involving the legendary king, Prester John. I was inspired to do some background research and write a Blog article about my findings.

I read my first Andy McDermott this year titled, The Hunt for Atlantis. The story had lots of action coupled with historical mysteries. Out of the four I have read so far I liked, The Secret of Excalibur the best.

Bernard Cornwell released the 7th book in the Saxon Series titled The Pagan Lord. Uhtred is an older man, still trying to recapture his ancestral family home of Bebbanburg. I was thrilled to read that BBC America is adapting the Saxon Series for a TV mini-series.

I read my first James Rollins novel titled, Excavation. Excellent author and story! The story starts with the discovery of the 500 year old mummified remains of a Franciscan Monk high the Andes mountains. His stories remind me of the novels Michael Crichton use to write, which is high praise.

In the fall, Cussler released his book Havana Storm, which i really enjoyed. The book was so good that I was inspired to do some research about the USS Maine and the Spanish-American War and write a Blog article. I learned a lot about the USS Maine. Especially about the various investigations into the cause of the incident and the salvage operation.

I also read my first Terry Goodkind novel, titled Wizards First Rule, and became hooked on his Sword of truth series. It was a hard story to put down. Once I finished the first one I kept right on going until I finished the third one in the series.

Wanting a break from the fantasy genera, I started The Lost Symbol bu Dan Brown. This is the next book in the Robert Langdon series, following The Da Vinci Code. Although I see many similarities to his other novels, I like this one a lot since it takes place in Washington DC and involves the Masons and all the symbolism and rumors about the organization.

I finished the year by reading the first book in a new series by Brandon Sanderson titled Steelheart. It’s from a series named The Reckoners. it was an excellent story. I immediately ordered the second book in the series titled Firefight, which was just released on January 5th, 2015. I know I will be reading that one in early 2015.

  1. Cool Blue Tomb – Paul Kemprecos
  2. Notorious Nineteen – Janet Evanovich
  3. Death in Deep Water – Paul Kemprecos
  4. Pandora’s Curse – Jack Du Brul
  5. Neptune’s Eye – Paul Kemprecos
  6. River of Ruin – Jack Du Brul
  7. Takedown Twenty – Janet Evanovich
  8. Viking Warrior – Judson Roberts
  9. Feeding Frenzy – Paul Kemprecos
  10. Dragons of the Sea – Judson Roberts
  11. Road to Vengeance – Judson Roberts
  12. Deep Fire Rising – Jack Du Brul
  13. Words of Radiance – Brandon Sanderson
  14. Bluefin Blues – Paul Kemprecos
  15. The Long Hunt – Judson Roberts
  16. The Mayflower Murders – Paul Kemprecos
  17. Ghostship – Clive Cussler and Graham Brown
  18. Kitchen Confidential – Anthony Bourdain
  19. The Hunt for Atlantis – Andy McDermott
  20. The Emerald Scepter – Paul Kempercos
  21. In Search of the Perfect Meal – Anthony Bourdain
  22. The Tomb of Hercules – Andy McDermott
  23. The Pagan Lord (Saxon Tales) – Bernard Cornwell
  24. The Secret of Excalibur – Andy McDermott
  25. The Nasty Bits – Anthony Bourdain
  26. Fletch, Too – Gregory McDonald (re-read)
  27. The Covenant of Genesis – Andy McDermott
  28. Son of Fletch – Gregory McDonald
  29. The Janson Directive – Robert Ludlum
  30. Excavation – James Rollins
  31. Havana Storm – Clive Cussler & Dirk Cussler
  32. Deep Fathom – James Rollins
  33. Wizards First Rule – Terry Goodkind
  34. Stone of Tears – Terry Goodkind
  35. Blood of the Fold – Terry Goodkind
  36. The Lost Symbol – Dan Brown
  37. Steelheart – Brandon Sanderson

Havana Storm and the USS Maine

Clive “pops” Cussler has done it again. Havana Storm is a fantastic Dirk Pitt novel. As usual he has woven a maritime mystery into the plot. This time it was the explosion of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor in 1898.

I was taught the incident triggered the start of the Spanish-American War. It was never proven if it was an accident or sabotage. Between the novel and some online research of my own I learned a lot about the incident and the history of the USS Maine.Havana Storm

Construction

A Wikipedia article explains that the ship’s design was cutting edge when the project was started but delays during construction made the ship obsolete by the time it entered service. One of the things that made the ship obsolete is gun placements and design. Wikipedia explains,

“The two main gun turrets were sponsoned out over the sides of the ship and echeloned to allow both to fire fore and aft. This met the demand at the time of Maine’s design for heavy end-on fire in a ship–to–ship encounter, tactics for which involved ramming the enemy vessel. When approaching the enemy on a ramming course, having all guns trained, end–on, would theoretically allow the maximum firepower to be brought to bear and thus the potential for inflicting the greatest amount of damage.[8] The wisdom of this tactic was purely theoretical, at the time it was implemented.”

The Sinking

The Wikipedia article tells us, “Sent to protect U.S. interests during the Cuban revolt against Spain” and that “she exploded suddenly without warning and sank quickly, killing nearly three-quarters of her crew.”

“The cause and responsibility for her sinking remained unclear after a board of inquiry. Nevertheless, popular opinion in the U.S., fanned by inflammatory articles printed in the “Yellow Press” by William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, blamed Spain.”

There were several investigations into the incident. Each one coming to a slightly different conclusion.

“On 21 March, the US Naval Court of Inquiry, in Key West, declared that a naval mine caused the explosion.[48]

It’s possible the sinking was an accident since the explosion happened in the forward ammo magazine.

It’s possible that Spanish forces did it since the court declared it was a naval mine. It’s remotely conceivable that the US sabotaged and sacrificed the ship to use as an excuse to go to war with Spain and grab more territory. The thought had also occurred to one the Wikipedia authors.  The Wikipedia article tells us,

“It has been suggested by some that the sinking was a false flag operation conducted by the U.S. This is the official view in Cuba. Cuban officials argue that the U.S. may have deliberately sunk the ship to create a pretext for military action against Spain. The wording on the Maine monument in Havana describes Maine ’​s sailors as “victims sacrificed to the imperialist greed in its fervor to seize control of Cuba”,[75] which “alludes to the theory that U.S. agents deliberately blew up their own ship to create a pretext for declaring war on Spain”.

Although I an not usually one to believer in conspiracy theories, there are several things which cause me to wonder.

  • I would say the US had an agenda in Cuba. As mentioned in Wikipedia, “Spanish–American War (Spanish: Guerra hispano-estadounidense) was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States, the result of American intervention in the Cuban War of Independence.”
  • If you had to sacrifice a ship you might as well pick one that is obsolete.
  • Newspapers covering the event used a tactic later became known as “yellow journalism.”

Investigations

The investigations into the incident could be it’s own Blog article. Wikipedia lists six major investigations have been completed since the incident. There were two done immediately after the incident in 1898. There was one done in 1911 by Admiral Hyman G. Rickover. In 1998 National Geographic did one (What took them so long.) Finally in 2002 the History Channel did one.

In 1898 the Spanish inquiry concluded the explosion was caused by spontaneous combustion in the coal bunker. The 1898 joint Spanish and American inquiry said it was a mine.

In 1911 the Rickover investigation was able to examine the wreckage as the Army Corps of Engineers were moving it out of Havana Harbor. They also said an external explosion (like from a mine) occurred.

The 1998 National Geographic investigation did not come out with a definitive conclusion, other than to say the evidence was not “definitive in proving that a mine was the cause of the sinking” although it did “strengthen the case.

The 2002 History Channel investigation concluded, “that a coal bunker fire caused the explosion, and a weakness or gap was identified in the bulkhead separating the coal and powder bunkers, which allowed the fire to spread from the coal bunker to the powder bunker.

Salvage

The story of the ship did not end with the sinking. It turns out the ship was raised from Havana harbor, moved and re-sunk outside the harbor in deeper water.

The Army Corps of Engineers did the job. They built a coffer dam around the wreck. Pumped the water out, sealed off the damaged bow from the stern and cut away the damaged bow. They filled the coffer dam and floated the ship up to be towed out to sea where it could be sunk away from the shipping traffic. I would say that’s a pretty clever solution!

Book Review

Cussler did a fantastic job with this novel. He used a maritime mystery where the cause was different over several investigations and wove it into his story in a very clever way. As with many Cussler novels (he is my favorite author) I give this one five stars!