Ghost Ship: The Mysterious True Story of the Mary Celeste and Her Missing Crew

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On December 4th, 1872, a 100-foot brigantine was discovered drifting through the North Atlantic without a soul on board. Not a sign of struggle, not a shred of damage, no ransacked cargo—and not a trace of the captain, his wife and daughter, or the crew. What happened on board the ghost ship Mary Celeste has baffled and tantalized the world for 130 years. In his stunning new book, award-winning journalist Brian Hicks plumbs the depths of this fabled nautical mystery and finally uncovers the truth.

The Mary Celeste was cursed as soon as she was launched on the Bay of Fundy in the spring of 1861. Her first captain died before completing the maiden voyage. In London she accidentally rammed and sank an English brig. Later she was abandoned after a storm drove her ashore at Cape Breton. But somehow the ship was recovered and refitted, and in the autumn of 1872 she fell to the reluctant command of a seasoned mariner named Benjamin Spooner Briggs. It was Briggs who was at the helm when the Mary Celeste sailed into history.

In Brian Hicks’s skilled hands, the story of the Mary Celeste becomes the quintessential tale of men lost at sea. Hicks vividly recreates the events leading up to the crew’s disappearance and then unfolds the complicated and bizarre aftermath—the dark suspicions that fell on the officers of the ship that intercepted her; the farcical Admiralty Court salvage hearing in Gibraltar; the wild myths that circulated after Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published a thinly disguised short story sensationalizing the mystery. Everything from a voodoo curse to an alien abduction has been hauled out to explain the fate of the Mary Celeste. But, as Brian Hicks reveals, the truth is actually grounded in the combined tragedies of human error and bad luck. The story of the Mary Celeste acquired yet another twist in 2001, when a team of divers funded by novelist Clive Cussler located the wreck in a coral reef off Haiti.

Written with the suspense of a thriller and the vivid accuracy of the best popular history, Ghost Ship tells the unforgettable true story of the most famous and most fascinating maritime mystery of all time.


From the Hardcover edition.
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About the author

Brian Hicks, a senior writer with The Post and Courier in Charleston, South Carolina, is the co-author of two previous books on maritime subjects: Raising the Hunley: The Remarkable History and Recovery of the Lost Confederate Submarine and Into the Wind: The Story of the World’s Longest Race. The recipient of the South Carolina Press Association’s award for Journalist of the Year, Hicks lives in Charleston with his wife and their son.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Ballantine Books
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Published on
Jun 1, 2004
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9780345478351
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Maritime History & Piracy
History / Modern / 19th Century
Transportation / Ships & Shipbuilding / History
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Brian Hicks
On a dark night in February of 1864, the H.L. Hunley, the first submarine to sink an enemy ship in combat, torpedoed the Union blockade ship USS Housatonic, a feat that would not be repeated for another 50 years. But fate was not kind to the Hunley that night as it sank with all of its crew on board before it could return to shore. Considered by many to be the Civil War’s greatest mystery, the Hunley’s demise and its resting place have been a topic of discussion for historians and Civil War buffs alike for more than a hundred years.

Adding still more to the intrigue, the vessel was discovered in 1995 by a dive team led by famed novelist and shipwreck hunter Clive Cussler, sparking an underwater investigation that resulted in the raising of the Hunley on August 8, 2000. Since that time, the extensive research and restorative efforts underway have unraveled the incredible secrets that were locked within the submarine at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

Join Civil War expert Brian Hicks as Sea of Darkness recounts the most historically accurate narrative of the sinking and eventual recovery ever written. Hicks has been given unprecedented access to all the main characters involved in the discovery, raising, and restoration of the Hunley. Complete with a foreword and additional commentary by Clive Cussler, Sea of Darkness offers new, never-before-published evidence on the cause of the Hunley’s sinking, providing readers a tantalizing behind-the-scenes look inside the historic submarine.
Brian Hicks
Brian Hicks
On a dark night in February of 1864, the H.L. Hunley, the first submarine to sink an enemy ship in combat, torpedoed the Union blockade ship USS Housatonic, a feat that would not be repeated for another 50 years. But fate was not kind to the Hunley that night as it sank with all of its crew on board before it could return to shore. Considered by many to be the Civil War’s greatest mystery, the Hunley’s demise and its resting place have been a topic of discussion for historians and Civil War buffs alike for more than a hundred years.

Adding still more to the intrigue, the vessel was discovered in 1995 by a dive team led by famed novelist and shipwreck hunter Clive Cussler, sparking an underwater investigation that resulted in the raising of the Hunley on August 8, 2000. Since that time, the extensive research and restorative efforts underway have unraveled the incredible secrets that were locked within the submarine at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

Join Civil War expert Brian Hicks as Sea of Darkness recounts the most historically accurate narrative of the sinking and eventual recovery ever written. Hicks has been given unprecedented access to all the main characters involved in the discovery, raising, and restoration of the Hunley. Complete with a foreword and additional commentary by Clive Cussler, Sea of Darkness offers new, never-before-published evidence on the cause of the Hunley’s sinking, providing readers a tantalizing behind-the-scenes look inside the historic submarine.
Brian Hicks
The history of the Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley is as astonishing as its disappearance. On February 17, 1864, after a legendary encounter with a Union battleship, the iron “fish boat” vanished without a trace somewhere off the coast of South Carolina. For more than a century the fate of the Hunley remained one of the great unsolved mysteries of the Civil War. Then, on August 8, 2000, with thousands of spectators crowding Charleston Harbor, the Hunley was raised from the bottom of the sea and towed ashore. Now, award-winning journalists Brian Hicks and Schuyler Kropf offer new insights into the Hunley’s final hours and recount the amazing true story of its rescue.

The brainchild of wealthy New Orleans planter and lawyer Horace Lawson Hunley, the Hunley inspired tremendous hopes of breaking the Union’s naval blockade of Charleston, only to drown two crews on disastrous test runs. But on the night of February 17, 1864, the Hunley finally made good on its promise. Under the command of the heroic Lieutenant George E. Dixon, the sub rammed a spar torpedo into the Union sloop Housatonic and sank the ship within minutes, accomplishing a feat of stealth technology that would not be repeated for half a century.

And then, shortly after its stunning success, the Hunley vanished.

This book is an extraordinary true story peopled with a fascinating cast of characters, including Horace Hunley himself, the Union officers and crew who went down with the Housatonic, P. T. Barnum, who offered $100,000 for its recovery, and novelist Clive Cussler, who spearheaded the mission that finally succeeded in finding the Hunley. The drama of salvaging the sub is only the prelude to a page-turning account of how scientists unsealed this archaeological treasure chest and discovered the inner-workings of a submarine more technologically advanced than anyone expected, as well as numerous, priceless artifacts.

Hicks and Kropf have crafted a spellbinding adventure story that spans over a century of American history. Dramatically told, filled with historical details and contemporary color, illustrated with breathtaking original photographs, Raising the Hunley is one of the most fascinating Civil War books to appear in years.


From the Hardcover edition.
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