A Man and His Ship: America's Greatest Naval Architect and His Quest to Build the S.S. United States

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THE STORY OF A GREAT AMERICAN BUILDER

At the peak of his power, in the 1940s and 1950s, William Francis Gibbs was considered America’s best naval architect.

His quest to build the finest, fastest, most beautiful ocean liner of his time, the S.S. United States, was a topic of national fascination. When completed in 1952, the ship was hailed as a technological masterpiece at a time when “made in America” meant the best.

Gibbs was an American original, on par with John Roebling of the Brooklyn Bridge and Frank Lloyd Wright of Fallingwater. Forced to drop out of Harvard following his family’s sudden financial ruin, he overcame debilitating shyness and lack of formal training to become the visionary creator of some of the finest ships in history. He spent forty years dreaming of the ship that became the S.S. United States.

William Francis Gibbs was driven, relentless, and committed to excellence. He loved his ship, the idea of it, and the realization of it, and he devoted himself to making it the epitome of luxury travel during the triumphant post–World War II era. Biographer Steven Ujifusa brilliantly describes the way Gibbs worked and how his vision transformed an industry. A Man and His Ship is a tale of ingenuity and enterprise, a truly remarkable journey on land and sea.
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About the author

Steven Ujifusa received his AB in history from Harvard University and a master’s degree in historic preservation from the University of Pennsylvania. His first book, A Man and His Ship, tells the story of William Francis Gibbs, the naval architect who created the ocean liner SS United States; The Wall Street Journal named it one of the best nonfiction titles of 2012. His new book, Barons of the Sea, brings to life the dynasties that built and owned the magnificent clipper ships of America’s nineteenth-century-era of maritime glory. Steven has given presentations across the country and on the high seas, and has appeared as guest on CBS Sunday Morning and NPR. A recipient of a MacDowell Colony fellowship and the Athenaeum of Philadelphia’s Literary Award, he lives with his wife, a pediatric emergency room physician, in Philadelphia. Read more about him at StevenUjifusa.com.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Jul 10, 2012
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Pages
448
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ISBN
9781451645088
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / General
History / General
History / Military / Naval
Technology & Engineering / Marine & Naval
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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From the inspired fiction of Jules Verne to the dark menace of the Cold War, submarines have captivated millions for more than a century. Many have been credited for the invention of the submarine, but one significant figure has been seriously overlooked by both historians and the government. Without the efforts of Simon Lake, underwater navigation would be very different from what it is today. Argonaut: The Submarine Legacy of Simon Lake illustrates the influence of Lake's creation and passion.

Simon Lake was the classic American inventor, complete with a rival, John Holland, who reaped most of history's praise for submarine design. However, it was Lake who launched his first working submarine in 1894 at the age of twenty-seven in the rivers of his native New Jersey. In 1898, his steel vessel, the Argonaut, completed a thousand-mile trek up the Atlantic coast. He received accolades from his spiritual mentor, Jules Verne, for his efforts. Despite the potential for government contracts, Lake remained private, using his invention to build up a fortune from underwater salvage.

Questionable governmental trials resulted in navy contracts for submarines being awarded to Lake's rival, the Holland Torpedo Boat Company (later the Electric Boat Company), prompting Lake to build submarines for Russia and Austria. The United States would not request Lake's service until 1908 and would not recognize his contributions to underwater navigation until after his death in 1945. However, there is little doubt that Lake's work helped provide the basis for modern submarine design and construction.

John J. Poluhowich has prepared the most complete biography of Simon Lake, devoting chapters to Lake's early fascination with the idea of underwater navigation, his struggles with design, and disappointment in the government. Argonaut presents Lake as an unsung hero worthy of praise and appreciation from the modern scientific community.

Argonaut is ideal for the general reader, students of history and sea exploration, as well as for anyone inspired by Lake's spirit of imagination and perseverance.

Written by an award-winning naval architecture author and former vice-president of the Royal Institution of Naval Architects (RINA), the fifth edition of Introduction to Naval Architecture has been fully updated to take in advances in the field and is ideal both for those approaching the subject for the first time and those looking to update or refresh their knowledge on areas outside of their direct expertise.

This book provides a broad appreciation of the science and art of naval architecture, explaining the subject in physical rather than in mathematical terms. While covering basic principles, such as hull geometry, propulsion, and stability, the book also addresses contemporary topics, such as computer aided design and computer aided manufacture (CAD/CAM). The new edition reflects the continuing developments in technology, changes in international regulations and recent research.

Knowledge of the fundamentals of naval architecture is essential not only for newcomers to the field but also the wealth of non-naval architects working in the marine area, including marine engineers, marine surveyors and ship crews. This book provides the most well-known and trusted introduction to the topic, offering a clear and concise take on the basics of this broad field.

Praise for previous edition

"...a clear and concise introduction to the subject, giving a good grasp of the basics of naval architecture."

— Maritime Journal

"...my go-to book for understanding the general principles of naval architecture. The book is well-written and easy to understand."

— Amazon.com reviewerProvides a perfect introduction to naval architecture for newcomers to the field and a compact overview for related marine professionals needing a working knowledge of the areaUpdated to cover key developments including double-hulled tankers and the increased use of computational methods and modeling in ship designDraws on the experience of renowned naval architecture author Eric Tupper to provide extensive scope and authoritative detail, all in an accessible and approachable style
The Maritime Engineering Reference Book is a one-stop source for engineers involved in marine engineering and naval architecture. In this essential reference, Anthony F. Molland has brought together the work of a number of the world's leading writers in the field to create an inclusive volume for a wide audience of marine engineers, naval architects and those involved in marine operations, insurance and other related fields.

Coverage ranges from the basics to more advanced topics in ship design, construction and operation. All the key areas are covered, including ship flotation and stability, ship structures, propulsion, seakeeping and maneuvering. The marine environment and maritime safety are explored as well as new technologies, such as computer aided ship design and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs).

Facts, figures and data from world-leading experts makes this an invaluable ready-reference for those involved in the field of maritime engineering.

Professor A.F. Molland, BSc, MSc, PhD, CEng, FRINA. is Emeritus Professor of Ship Design at the University of Southampton, UK. He has lectured ship design and operation for many years. He has carried out extensive research and published widely on ship design and various aspects of ship hydrodynamics.

* A comprehensive overview from best-selling authors including Bryan Barrass, Rawson and Tupper, and David Eyres
* Covers basic and advanced material on marine engineering and Naval Architecture topics
* Have key facts, figures and data to hand in one complete reference book
“A fascinating, fast-paced history…full of remarkable characters and incredible stories” about the nineteenth-century American dynasties who battled for dominance of the tea and opium trades (Nathaniel Philbrick, National Book Award-winning author of In the Heart of the Sea).

There was a time, back when the United States was young and the robber barons were just starting to come into their own, when fortunes were made and lost importing luxury goods from China. It was a secretive, glamorous, often brutal business—one where teas and silks and porcelain were purchased with profits from the opium trade. But the journey by sea to New York from Canton could take six agonizing months, and so the most pressing technological challenge of the day became ensuring one’s goods arrived first to market, so they might fetch the highest price.

“With the verse of a natural dramatist” (The Christian Science Monitor), Steven Ujifusa tells the story of a handful of cutthroat competitors who raced to build the fastest, finest, most profitable clipper ships to carry their precious cargo to American shores. They were visionary, eccentric shipbuilders, debonair captains, and socially ambitious merchants with names like Forbes and Delano—men whose business interests took them from the cloistered confines of China’s expatriate communities to the sin city decadence of Gold Rush-era San Francisco, and from the teeming hubbub of East Boston’s shipyards and to the lavish sitting rooms of New York’s Hudson Valley estates.

Elegantly written and meticulously researched, Barons of the Sea is a riveting tale of innovation and ingenuity that “takes the reader on a rare and intoxicating journey back in time” (Candice Millard, bestselling author of Hero of the Empire), drawing back the curtain on the making of some of the nation’s greatest fortunes, and the rise and fall of an all-American industry as sordid as it was genteel.
In response to criticism and disappointment from the Left, A Consequential President offers a bold assessment of the lasting successes and major achievements of President Obama.

Had he only saved the U.S. economy with his economic recovery act and his program to restore the auto industry, President Obama would have been considered a successful president. He achieved so much more, however, that he can be counted as one of our most consequential presidents.

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Most importantly, as the first African-American president, he navigated race relations and a rising tide of bigotry, including some who challenged his citizenship, while also fighting a Republican Party determined to make him one-term president. As a result, Obama's greatest achievement was restoring dignity and ethics to the office of the president, proof that he delivered his campaign promise of hope and change.

The harrowing story of five men who were sent into a dark, airless, miles-long tunnel, hundreds of feet below the ocean, to do a nearly impossible job—with deadly results
 
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In the early hours of February 25, 1968, a Russian submarine armed with three nuclear ballistic missiles set sail from its base in Siberia on a routine combat patrol to Hawaii. Then it vanished.

As the Soviet Navy searched in vain for the lost vessel, a small, highly classified American operation using sophisticated deep-sea spy equipment found it—wrecked on the sea floor at a depth of 16,800 feet, far beyond the capabilities of any salvage that existed. But the potential intelligence assets onboard the ship—the nuclear warheads, battle orders, and cryptological machines—justified going to extreme lengths to find a way to raise the submarine.

So began Project Azorian, a top-secret mission that took six years, cost an estimated $800 million, and would become the largest and most daring covert operation in CIA history.

After the U.S. Navy declared retrieving the sub “impossible,” the mission fell to the CIA's burgeoning Directorate of Science and Technology, the little-known division responsible for the legendary U-2 and SR-71 Blackbird spy planes. Working with Global Marine Systems, the country's foremost maker of exotic, deep-sea drilling vessels, the CIA commissioned the most expensive ship ever built and told the world that it belonged to the reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes, who would use the mammoth ship to mine rare minerals from the ocean floor. In reality, a complex network of spies, scientists, and politicians attempted a project even crazier than Hughes’s reputation: raising the sub directly under the watchful eyes of the Russians.

The Taking of K-129 is a riveting, almost unbelievable true-life tale of military history, engineering genius, and high-stakes spy-craft set during the height of the Cold War, when nuclear annihilation was a constant fear, and the opportunity to gain even the slightest advantage over your enemy was worth massive risk.
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