Ship Ablaze: The Tragedy of the Steamboat General Slocum

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The true story of one of the greatest tragedies in New York history

On June 15, 1904, the steamship General Slocum was heading from Manhattan to Long Island Sound when a fire erupted in one of the storage rooms. Faced with an untrained crew, crumbling life jackets, and inaccessible lifeboats, hundreds of terrified passengers--few of which were experienced swimmers--fled into the water. By the time the captain found a safe shore for landing, more than 1000 people had perished. It was New York’s deadliest tragedy prior to September 11, 2001.

The only book available on this compelling chapter in the city’s history, Ship Ablaze draws on firsthand accounts to examine why the death toll was so high, how the city responded, and why this event failed to achieve the infamy of the Titanic’s 1912 demise or the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. Masterfully capturing both the horror of the event and heroism of men, women, and children aboard the ship as the inferno spread, historian Edward T. O’Donnell brings to life a bygone community while honoring the victims of that forgotten day.
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About the author

Edward T. O’Donnell is an associate professor of history at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. He is the author of several books, including Visions of America and 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About Irish American History. He lives in Holden, Massachusetts with his wife Stephanie, and four daughters, Erin, Kelly, Michelle, and Katherine (and their dog Sammy). To learn more, please visit his website, EdwardTODonnell.com.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Broadway Books
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Published on
Dec 30, 2008
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Pages
368
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ISBN
9780307490872
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Maritime History & Piracy
History / United States / 20th Century
History / United States / State & Local / Middle Atlantic (DC, DE, MD, NJ, NY, PA)
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Triangle is a poignantly detailed account of the 1911 disaster that horrified the country and changed the course of twentieth-century politics and labor relations

On March 25, 1911, as workers were getting ready to leave for the day, a fire broke out in the Triangle shirtwaist factory in New York’s Greenwich Village. Within minutes it spread to consume the building’s upper three stories. Firemen who arrived at the scene were unable to rescue those trapped inside: their ladders simply weren’t tall enough. People on the street watched in horror as desperate workers jumped to their deaths. The final toll was 146 people—123 of them women. It was the worst workplace disaster in New York City history.

This harrowing yet compulsively readable book is both a chronicle of the Triangle shirtwaist fire and a vibrant portrait of an entire age. It follows the waves of Jewish and Italian immigration that inundated New York in the early years of the century, filling its slums and supplying its garment factories with cheap, mostly female labor. It portrays the Dickensian work conditions that led to a massive waist-worker’s strike in which an unlikely coalition of socialists, socialites, and suffragettes took on bosses, police, and magistrates. Von Drehle shows how popular revulsion at the Triangle catastrophe led to an unprecedented alliance between idealistic labor reformers and the supremely pragmatic politicians of the Tammany machine.

David Von Drehle orchestrates these events into a drama rich in suspense and filled with memorable characters: the tight-fisted “shirtwaist kings” Max Blanck and Isaac Harris; Charles F. Murphy, the shrewd kingmaker of Tammany Hall; blue-blooded activists like Anne Morgan, daughter of J. P. Morgan; and reformers Frances Perkins and Al Smith. Most powerfully, he puts a human face on the men and women who died on March 25. Triangle is an immensely moving account of the hardships of New York City life in the early part of the twentieth century, and how this event transformed politics and gave rise to urban liberalism.
A human drama unlike any other—the riveting and definitive full story of the worst sea disaster in United States naval history.

“ENTHRALLING.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review) • “OUTSTANDING…A MUST-READ.” —Booklist (starred review) • “GRIPPING.” —Publishers Weekly

Just after midnight on July 30, 1945, days after delivering the components of the atomic bomb from California to the Pacific Islands in the most highly classified naval mission of the war, USS Indianapolis is sailing alone in the center of the Philippine Sea when she is struck by two Japanese torpedoes. The ship is instantly transformed into a fiery cauldron and sinks within minutes. Some 300 men go down with the ship. Nearly 900 make it into the water alive. For the next five nights and four days, almost three hundred miles from the nearest land, the men battle injuries, sharks, dehydration, insanity, and eventually each other. Only 316 will survive.

For the better part of a century, the story of USS Indianapolis has been understood as a sinking tale. The reality, however, is far more complicated—and compelling. Now, for the first time, thanks to a decade of original research and interviews with 107 survivors and eyewit­nesses, Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic tell the complete story of the ship, her crew, and their final mission to save one of their own.

It begins in 1932, when Indianapolis is christened and launched as the ship of state for President Franklin Roosevelt. After Pearl Harbor, Indianapolis leads the charge to the Pacific Islands, notching an unbroken string of victories in an uncharted theater of war. Then, under orders from President Harry Truman, the ship takes aboard a superspy and embarks on her final world-changing mission: delivering the core of the atomic bomb to the Pacific for the strike on Hiroshima. Vincent and Vladic provide a visceral, moment-by-moment account of the disaster that unfolds days later after the Japanese torpedo attack, from the chaos on board the sinking ship to the first moments of shock as the crew plunge into the remote waters of the Philippine Sea, to the long days and nights during which terror and hunger morph into delusion and desperation, and the men must band together to survive.

Then, for the first time, the authors go beyond the men’s rescue to chronicle Indianapolis’s extraordinary final mission: the survivors’ fifty-year fight for justice on behalf of their skipper, Captain Charles McVay III, who is wrongly court-martialed for the sinking. What follows is a captivating courtroom drama that weaves through generations of American presidents, from Harry Truman to George W. Bush, and forever entwines the lives of three captains—McVay, whose life and career are never the same after the scandal; Mochitsura Hashimoto, the Japanese sub commander who sinks Indianapolis but later joins the battle to exonerate McVay; and William Toti, the captain of the modern-day submarine Indianapolis, who helps the survivors fight to vindicate their captain.

A sweeping saga of survival, sacrifice, justice, and love, Indianapolis stands as both groundbreaking naval history and spellbinding narrative—and brings the ship and her heroic crew back to full, vivid, unforgettable life. It is the definitive account of one of the most remarkable episodes in American history.
“This is the most authoritative and highly literate account of these pernicious people that I have ever read.”—Patrick O'Brian

“[A] wonderfully entertaining history of pirates and piracy . . . a rip-roaring read . . . fascinating and unexpected.”—Men's Journal

This rollicking account of the golden age of piracy is packed with vivid history and high seas adventure. David Cordingly, an acclaimed expert on pirates, reveals the spellbinding truth behind the legends of Blackbeard, Captain Kidd, Sir Francis Drake, the fierce female brigands Mary Read and Anne Bonny, and others who rode and robbed upon the world's most dangerous waters. Here, in thrilling detail, are the weapons they used, the ships they sailed, and the ways they fought—and were defeated. Under the Black Flag also charts the paths of fictional pirates such as Captain Hook and Long John Silver. The definitive resource on the subject, this book is as captivating as it is supremely entertaining. 

Praise for Under the Black Flag

“[A] lively history . . . If you've ever been seduced by the myth of the cutlass-wielding pirate, consider David Cordingly's Under the Black Flag.”—USA Today, “Best Bets”

“Engagingly told . . . a tale of the power of imaginative literature to re-create the past.”—Los Angeles Times

“Entirely engaging and informative . . . a witty and spirited book.”—The Washington Post Book World

“Plenty of thrills and adventure to satisfy any reader.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
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