Despite the breathless title, this is an accomplished history of an iconic battle.



Sturdy account of the Civil War’s most significant naval battle.

Keith and Clavin, co-authors of All Blood Runs Red, once again join forces in this naval history that emphasizes commerce raiding and the lives of the captains of the vessels involved. Commissioned a midshipman for the Confederate Navy at age 16, Raphael Semmes eventually became commander of the fearsome raider CSS Alabama. At the time, British law forbade supplying warships to “belligerents,” but officials paid little attention as Southern agents found a shipbuilder willing to construct a vessel purportedly for private use. The ship sailed to the Azores, where another ship loaded with military supplies completed its conversion; on Aug. 24, 1862, it officially became the Alabama. Over the following two years, it captured perhaps 65 Union merchantmen. This barely touched the massive Union economy, but by 1863, pressure from infuriated ship owners persuaded the government to take action. The authors follow with a biography of John Winslow, captain of the Alabama’s nemesis, the USS Kearsarge. Both Semmes and Winslow had largely undistinguished prewar careers, but Winslow, a North Carolinian, stuck with the Union and received orders to track down the Alabama. Unfortunately for him, “when Alabama was in the Atlantic the chances of her heaving into view of the Ke­arsarge were infinitesimally small.” After more than a year, Winslow decided to pay special attention to ports along the English Channel, which Semmes seemed to prefer for resupply. Sure enough, in June 1864, the Alabama docked at Cherbourg, and Winslow and crew got to work. Although they produce a gripping read, Keith and Clavin do not overdramatize the battle. After years at sea with no major overhaul, the Alabama was no match for the well-prepared Kearsarge, whose modern guns pummeled it mercilessly, sinking it. Winslow was a hero, and in the South, so was Semmes. Both lived modest but prosperous lives into the following decade.

Despite the breathless title, this is an accomplished history of an iconic battle.

Pub Date: April 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-335-47141-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Hanover Square Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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A concise personal and scholarly history that avoids academic jargon as it illuminates emotional truths.

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The Harvard historian and Texas native demonstrates what the holiday means to her and to the rest of the nation.

Initially celebrated primarily by Black Texans, Juneteenth refers to June 19, 1865, when a Union general arrived in Galveston to proclaim the end of slavery with the defeat of the Confederacy. If only history were that simple. In her latest, Gordon-Reed, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and numerous other honors, describes how Whites raged and committed violence against celebratory Blacks as racism in Texas and across the country continued to spread through segregation, Jim Crow laws, and separate-but-equal rationalizations. As Gordon-Reed amply shows in this smooth combination of memoir, essay, and history, such racism is by no means a thing of the past, even as Juneteenth has come to be celebrated by all of Texas and throughout the U.S. The Galveston announcement, notes the author, came well after the Emancipation Proclamation but before the ratification of the 13th Amendment. Though Gordon-Reed writes fondly of her native state, especially the strong familial ties and sense of community, she acknowledges her challenges as a woman of color in a state where “the image of Texas has a gender and a race: “Texas is a White man.” The author astutely explores “what that means for everyone who lives in Texas and is not a White man.” With all of its diversity and geographic expanse, Texas also has a singular history—as part of Mexico, as its own republic from 1836 to 1846, and as a place that “has connections to people of African descent that go back centuries.” All of this provides context for the uniqueness of this historical moment, which Gordon-Reed explores with her characteristic rigor and insight.

A concise personal and scholarly history that avoids academic jargon as it illuminates emotional truths.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63149-883-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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