Winner of the National Book Award, Nathaniel Philbrick's book is a fantastic saga of survival and adventure, steeped in the lore of whaling, with deep resonance in American literature and history.
In 1820, the whaleship Essex was rammed and sunk by an angry sperm whale, leaving the desperate crew to drift for more than ninety days in three tiny boats. Nathaniel Philbrick uses little-known documents and vivid details about the Nantucket whaling tradition to reveal the chilling facts of this infamous maritime disaster. In the Heart of the Sea, recently adapted into a major feature film starring Chris Hemsworth, is a book for the ages.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
The story of the fire, its causes, and its legal and human aftermath is one of lives put at risk by petty economic decisions--by a band, club owners, promoters, building inspectors, and product manufacturers. Any one of those decisions, made differently, might have averted the tragedy. Together, however, they reached a fatal critical mass.
Killer Show is the first comprehensive exploration of the chain of events leading up to the fire, the conflagration itself, and the painstaking search for evidence to hold the guilty to account and obtain justice for the victims.
Anyone who has entered an entertainment venue and wondered, "Could I get out of here in a hurry?" will identify with concertgoers at The Station. Fans of disaster nonfiction and forensic thrillers will find ample elements of both genres in Killer Show.
A quarter-century ago, Boston had the dirtiest harbor in America. The city had been dumping sewage into it for generations, coating the seafloor with a layer of “black mayonnaise.” Fisheries collapsed, wildlife fled, and locals referred to floating tampon applicators as “beach whistles.”
In the 1990s, work began on a state-of-the-art treatment plant and a 10-mile-long tunnel—its endpoint stretching farther from civilization than the earth’s deepest ocean trench—to carry waste out of the harbor. With this impressive feat of engineering, Boston was poised to show the country how to rebound from environmental ruin. But when bad decisions and clashing corporations endangered the project, a team of commercial divers was sent on a perilous mission to rescue the stymied cleanup effort. Five divers went in; not all of them came out alive.
Drawing on hundreds of interviews and thousands of documents collected over five years of reporting, award-winning writer Neil Swidey takes us deep into the lives of the divers, engineers, politicians, lawyers, and investigators involved in the tragedy and its aftermath, creating a taut, action-packed narrative. The climax comes just after the hard-partying DJ Gillis and his friend Billy Juse trade assignments as they head into the tunnel, sentencing one of them to death.
An intimate portrait of the wreckage left in the wake of lives lost, the book—which Dennis Lehane calls "extraordinary" and compares with The Perfect Storm—is also a morality tale. What is the true cost of these large-scale construction projects, as designers and builders, emboldened by new technology and pressured to address a growing population’s rapacious needs, push the limits of the possible? This is a story about human risk—how it is calculated, discounted, and transferred—and the institutional failures that can lead to catastrophe.
Suspenseful yet humane, Trapped Under the Sea reminds us that behind every bridge, tower, and tunnel—behind the infrastructure that makes modern life possible—lies unsung bravery and extraordinary sacrifice.
From the Hardcover edition.
A New York Times Bestseller
A Boston Globe Bestseller
An ABA Indie Bestseller
James "Whitey" Bulger became one of the most ruthless gangsters in US history, and all because of an unholy deal he made with a childhood friend. John Connolly a rising star in the Boston FBI office, offered Bulger protection in return for helping the Feds eliminate Boston's Italian mafia. But no one offered Boston protection from Whitey Bulger, who, in a blizzard of gangland killings, took over the city's drug trade. Whitey's deal with Connolly's FBI spiraled out of control to become the biggest informant scandal in FBI history.
Black Mass is a New York Times and Boston Globe bestseller, written by two former reporters who were on the case from the beginning. It is an epic story of violence, double-cross, and corruption at the center of which are the black hearts of two old friends whose lives unfolded in the darkness of permanent midnight.
Boston in 1775 is an island city occupied by British troops after a series of incendiary incidents by patriots who range from sober citizens to thuggish vigilantes. After the Boston Tea Party, British and American soldiers and Massachusetts residents have warily maneuvered around each other until April 19, when violence finally erupts at Lexington and Concord. In June, however, with the city cut off from supplies by a British blockade and Patriot militia poised in siege, skirmishes give way to outright war in the Battle of Bunker Hill. It would be the bloodiest battle of the Revolution to come, and the point of no return for the rebellious colonists.
Philbrick brings a fresh perspective to every aspect of the story. He finds new characters, and new facets to familiar ones. The real work of choreographing rebellion falls to a thirty-three year old physician named Joseph Warren who emerges as the on-the-ground leader of the Patriot cause and is fated to die at Bunker Hill. Others in the cast include Paul Revere, Warren’s fiancé the poet Mercy Scollay, a newly recruited George Washington, the reluctant British combatant General Thomas Gage and his more bellicose successor William Howe, who leads the three charges at Bunker Hill and presides over the claustrophobic cauldron of a city under siege as both sides play a nervy game of brinkmanship for control.
With passion and insight, Philbrick reconstructs the revolutionary landscape—geographic and ideological—in a mesmerizing narrative of the robust, messy, blisteringly real origins of America.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Haefeli and Sweeney reconstruct events from multiple points of view, through the stories of a variety of individuals involved. These stories begin in the Native, French, and English communities of the colonial Northeast, then converge in the February 29 raid, as a force of more than two hundred Frenchmen, Abenakis, Hurons, Kahnawake Mohawks, Pennacooks, and Iroquois of the Mountain overran the northwesternmost village of the New England frontier. Although the inhabitants put up more of a fight than earlier accounts of the so-called Deerfield Massacre have suggested, the attackers took 112 men, women, and children captive. The book follows the raiders and their prisoners on the harsh three-hundred-mile trek back to Canada and into French and Native communities. Along the way the authors examine how captives and captors negotiated cultural boundaries and responded to the claims of competing faiths and empires -- all against a backdrop of continuing warfare.
By giving equal weight to all participants, Haefeli and Sweeney range across the fields of social, political, literary, religious, and military history, and reveal connections between cultures and histories usually seen as separate.
“For everyone who loves Nantucket Island this is the indispensable book.” —Russell Baker
In his first book of history, Away Off Shore, New York Times-bestselling author Nathaniel Philbrick reveals the people and the stories behind what was once the whaling capital of the world. Beyond its charm, quaint local traditions, and whaling yarns, Philbrick explores the origins of Nantucket in this comprehensive history. From the English settlers who thought they were purchasing a “Native American ghost town” but actually found a fully realized society, through the rise and fall of the then thriving whaling industry, the story of Nantucket is a truly unique chapter of American history.
The individuals involved are too often reduced to stock characters and stereotypes when accuracy is sacrificed to indignation. And although the flood of names and detail in the history of an extraordinary event like the Salem witch trials can swamp the individual lives involved, individuals still deserve to be remembered and, in remembering specific lives, modern readers can benefit from such historical intimacy. By examining the lives of six specific women, Marilynne Roach shows readers what it was like to be present throughout this horrific time and how it was impossible to live through it unchanged.
In the sleepy hamlet of Canaan, Connecticut, Barbara Gibbons stood out. She and her eighteen-year-old son, Peter Reilly, lived in a drab one-bedroom house on a desolate stretch of road. An intelligent, lively woman with a wicked sense of humor, Barbara also had dark moods and drank too much. She fought loudly with neighbors and her son, and appeared to have a messy, complicated love life.
When Peter came home from the Teen Center one night to discover his mother lying naked on the bedroom floor with her throat slashed, the police made him their prime suspect. After eight hours of interrogation and a polygraph test, Peter confessed. Investigators were convinced they had an open-and-shut case, but the townspeople disagreed. They couldn’t believe that the naïve teenager was capable of such a gruesome crime, and blamed detectives for taking advantage of the boy’s trust. With the help of celebrities including Mike Nichols and William Styron, who contributes an eloquent and persuasive introduction to Joan Barthel’s account of the case, the community of Canaan rallied to Peter’s defense.
A gripping murder mystery and an intimate portrait of the loyalties, resentments, and secrets lurking beneath the placid surface of quiet towns across America, A Death in Canaan is a masterpiece of “first-class journalism” (The New York Times).
During its evolution from Indian trails to modern interstates, the Boston Post Road, a system of over-land routes between New York City and Boston, has carried not just travelers and mail but the march of American history itself. Eric Jaffe captures the progress of people and culture along the road through four centuries, from its earliest days as the king of England’s “best highway” to the current era.
Centuries before the telephone, radio, or Internet, the Boston Post Road was the primary conduit of America’s prosperity and growth. News, rumor, political intrigue, financial transactions, and personal missives traveled with increasing rapidity, as did people from every walk of life.
From post riders bearing the alarms of revolution, to coaches carrying George Washington on his first presidential tour, to railroads transporting soldiers to the Civil War, the Boston Post Road has been essential to the political, economic, and social development of the United States.
Continuously raised, improved, rerouted, and widened for faster and heavier traffic, the road played a key role in the advent of newspapers, stagecoach travel, textiles, mass-produced bicycles and guns, commuter railroads, automobiles—even Manhattan’s modern grid. Many famous Americans traveled the highway, and it drew the keen attention of such diverse personages as Benjamin Franklin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, P. T. Barnum, J. P. Morgan, and Robert Moses.
Eric Jaffe weaves this entertaining narrative with a historian’s eye for detail and a journalist’s flair for storytelling. A cast of historical figures, celebrated and unknown alike, tells the lost tale of this road.
Revolutionary printer William Goddard created a postal network that united the colonies against the throne. General Washington struggled to hold the highway during the battle for Manhattan. Levi Pease convinced Americans to travel by stagecoach until, half a century later, Nathan Hale convinced them to go by train. Abe Lincoln, still a dark-horse candidate in early 1860, embarked on a railroad speaking tour along the route that clinched the presidency. Bomb builder Lester Barlow, inspired by the Post Road’s notorious traffic, nearly sold Congress on a national system of expressways twenty-five years before the Interstate Highway Act of 1956.
Based on extensive travels of the highway, interviews with people living up and down the road, and primary sources unearthed from the great libraries between New York City and Boston—including letters, maps, contemporaneous newspapers, and long-forgotten government documents—The King’s Best Highway is a delightful read for American history buffs and lovers of narrative everywhere.
In 1845 a young, penniless William Skinner sailed in steerage class on a boat that took him from the slums of London to the United States. Endowed with rare knowledge in the art of dyeing and an uncanny business sense, he acquired work in a fledgling silk mill in Massachusetts, quickly rising to prominence in the nation’s new luxury industry. Soon he opened his own factory and began turning out one of the bestselling silk brands in the country. Skinner was lauded as a pioneer in the textile industry and a manufacturer who knew no such word as fail. His business grew to sustain a bustling community filled with men, women, and children, living and working in the mill village of “Skinner-ville,” producing the country’s most glamorous, fashionable thread.
Then, in 1874, disaster struck. Hundreds of millions of gallons of water burst through a nearby dam, destroying everything in its path, including Skinnerville. Within fifteen minutes, Skinner’s entire life’s work was swept away, and he found himself one of the central figures in the worst industrial disaster the nation had yet known.
In this gripping narrative history, Skinner’s great-great-granddaughter, Sarah S. Kilborne, tells an inspiring, unforgettable American story—of a town devastated by unimaginable catastrophe; an industry that had no reason to succeed except for the perseverance of a few intrepid entrepreneurs; and a man who had nothing—and everything—to lose as he struggled—and succeeded— to rebuild his life for a second time. American Phoenix offers a new twist on the American dream, reminding us that just when we thought the dream was over, it may have only just begun.
The defining moments of the American Revolution did not occur on the battlefield or at the diplomatic table, writes New York Times bestselling author Thomas Fleming, but at Valley Forge. Fleming transports us to December 1777. While the British army lives in luxury in conquered Philadelphia, Washington's troops huddle in the barracks of Valley Forge, fending off starvation and disease even as threats of mutiny swirl through the regiments. Though his army stands on the edge of collapse, George Washington must wage a secondary war, this one against the slander of his reputation as a general and patriot. Washington strategizes not only against the British army but against General Horatio Gates, the victor in the Battle of Saratoga, who has attracted a coterie of ambitious generals devising ways to humiliate and embarrass Washington into resignation.
Using diaries and letters, Fleming creates an unforgettable portrait of an embattled Washington. Far from the long-suffering stoic of historical myth, Washington responds to attacks from Gates and his allies with the skill of a master politician. He parries the thrusts of his covert enemies, and, as necessary, strikes back with ferocity and guile. While many histories portray Washington as a man who has transcended politics, Fleming's Washington is exceedingly complex, a man whose political maneuvering allowed him to retain his command even as he simultaneously struggled to prevent the Continental Army from dissolving into mutiny at Valley Forge.
Written with his customary flair and eye for human detail and drama, Thomas Fleming's gripping narrative develops with the authority of a major historian and the skills of a master storyteller. Washington's Secret War is not only a revisionist view of the American ordeal at Valley Forge - it calls for a new assessment of the man too often simplified into an American legend. This is narrative history at its best and most vital.
A recognized authority on historic barn preservation, Visser has combed the six-state region for representative barns and outbuildings, and 200 of his photographs are reproduced here. The text, which includes accounts from 18th- and 19th-century observers, describes key architectural characteristics, historic uses, and geographic distribution as well as specific features like timbers and frames, sheathings, doors, and cupolas. From English barns to bank barns, from ice houses to outhouses, these irreplaceable assets, Visser writes, "linger as vulnerable survivors of the past. Yet before these buildings vanish, each has a story to tell." Travelers, residents, and scholars alike will find Visser's text invaluable in uncovering, understanding, and appreciating the stories inherent in these dwindling cultural artifacts.
Melish tells how whites came to blame the impoverished condition of people of color on their innate inferiority, how racialization became an important component of New England ante-bellum nationalism, and how former slaves actively participated in this discourse by emphasizing their African identity. Placing race at the center of New England history, she contends that slavery was important not only as a labor system but also as an institutionalized set of relations. The collective amnesia about local slavery's existence became a significant component of New England regional identity.
Highway historian and retired highway engineer Larry Larned, author of Traveling the Merritt Parkway, has appeared in television and radio interviews speaking about Route 15 and the nation's early roads. Route 15: The Road to Hartford presents images from his forty years of collecting and documenting Connecticut roadside culture, architecture, and engineering. His detailed account of the road to Hartford includes personal recollections of traveling Route 15 as a youngster and studying the details along the way-the tollbooths, the bow-tied gas station attendants, the families on picnics at rest stops.
The culture of fishing is vanishing, and consequently, coastal societies are changing in unprecedented ways. The once thriving fishing communities of Rockport, Nantucket, Newport, Mystic, and many other coastal towns from Newfoundland to Florida and along the West Coast have been forced to abandon their roots and become tourist destinations instead. Gloucester, Massachusetts, however, is a rare survivor. The livelihood of America’s oldest fishing port has always been rooted in the life and culture of commercial fishing.
The Gloucester story began in 1004 with the arrival of the Vikings. Six hundred years later, Captain John Smith championed the bountiful waters off the coast of Gloucester, convincing new settlers to come to the area and start a new way of life. Gloucester became the most productive fishery in New England, its people prospering from the seemingly endless supply of cod and halibut. With the introduction of a faster fishing boat–the schooner–the industry flourished. In the twentieth century, the arrival of Portuguese, Jews, and Sicilians turned the bustling center into a melting pot. Artists and writers such as Edward Hopper, Winslow Homer, and T. S. Eliot came to the fishing town and found inspiration.
But the vital life of Gloucester was being threatened. Ominous signs were seen with the development of engine-powered net-dragging vessels in the first decade of the twentieth century. As early as 1911, Gloucester fishermen warned of the dire consequences of this new technology. Since then, these vessels have become even larger and more efficient, and today the resulting overfishing, along with climate change and pollution, portends the extinction of the very species that fishermen depend on to survive, and of a way of life special not only to Gloucester but to coastal cities all over the world. And yet, according to Kurlansky, it doesn’t have to be this way. Scientists, government regulators, and fishermen are trying to work out complex formulas to keep fishing alive.
Engagingly written and filled with rich history, delicious anecdotes, colorful characters, and local recipes, The Last Fish Tale is Kurlansky’s most urgent story, a heartfelt tribute to what he calls “socio-diversity” and a lament that “each culture, each way of life that vanishes, diminishes the richness of civilization.”
From the Hardcover edition.