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Editorial Reviews


[E]pic story of young friends living through the turmoil of the 1960s and '70s... Their personal triumphs and tragedies bind them together, and they grow and change... a fascinating book...[A] superb job of weaving the strands of the plot into a seamless narrative...historical detail makes the text come alive... Crystal Ships offers a vibrant and compelling look into an important time in history and provides a remarkable context for understanding the art that came out of the era. Clarion Reviews (Five stars out of five).

[A] kaleidoscopic review of 1960s politics, promiscuity, rampant drug activity and assassinations. . The wide-ranging novel supports intelligent characters and a complex, lucid plot.... A brisk narrative pace holds the reader in thrall... the novel fascinates due to the writer's skillful rendering of the era. Kirkus Reviews.

Richard Sharp has a singular talent as a novelist with the ability to engage his readers into a fictional world plucked from real-world headlines. The combination of deftly crafted characters immersed into a complexly woven story marks "Crystal Ships" as an extraordinarily entertaining read...highly recommended for community library fiction collections." The Midwest Book Review.

"Richard Sharp paints a wonderfully detailed picture...a bittersweet combination of idealism and a cultured cynicism...enjoyable for everyone, from the literary critic to the casual Sunday reader." Katelyn Hensel for Readers' Favorite
"[A] massive undertaking elegantly put together... a wonderful window on that world that was the Sixties." Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
"[R]eaches into the emotional depths of the characters and places the reader inside their troubled souls. Profound, inspired and thought provoking" Bil Howard for Readers' Favorite

"Despite the potential to overdetermine the characters into simple types, Sharp manages to make every character seem real and lived-in... While it is easy to idealize and mythologize the Sixties, it is much harder to burrow beneath the ideals to see the everyday struggle, suffering, and death that came in its wake. Crystal Ships tells a story about those who wanted to change things. It also tells a story of those who survived the process. 9 of 10 stars"  Karl Wolff for Chicago Center for Literature and Photography

About the Author

Richard Sharp earned a BA from Harvard as well as a master’s degree from Princeton, launching a career as an international development consultant before recently retiring.

He is the author of Jacob’s Cellar, Time is the Oven, The Duke Don’t Dance, and his most recent novel, Crystal Ships. His publications have garnered him multiple accolades, including a place on the Kirkus Best Self-Published Book list (2013), the Best Adult Fiction E-Book award (2013), an Independent Publishers gold medal, and a finalist finish in the ForeWord Clarion Firsts (2012) and Reader’s Favorite (2012) categories.

Sharp is married with two adult children.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 374 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (November 22, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1492722928
  • ISBN-13: 978-1492722922
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,827,185 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard Sharp writes literary/historical fiction of ordinary Americans in 19th and 20th century settings. He confesses to being a member of the "Silent Generation"(b. circa 1926-1945), a major subject of his near-contemporary novels, The "Duke Don't Dance" (Kirkus Best of 2012 Indie Books List,Independent Publisher [IPPY] 2013 Gold Medal, Best Adult Fiction Ebook)and "Crystal Ships" (released 22 Nov. 2013). Born in the early 1940s into a farming family who had migrated to rural Colorado from Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl, he traveled east as a young adult to receive degrees from Harvard and Princeton Universities. His writing is enriched from career experiences across America and in some four dozen countries, spanning the Vietnam War era, the subject of Crystal Ships, through the present.

Following years in the Washington, DC area as an international development and transport consultant, with assignments mainly in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the former Soviet Union, Mr Sharp now resides in Charlotte, North Carolina. He is a member of the North Carolina Writer's Network and the Charlotte Writer's Club. While "The Duke Don't Dance" is not autobiographical, Sharp takes advantage of his broad experience to develop the novel's vivid scenes of Thailand during the Vietnam conflict, post-colonial Africa, the Soviet Union and, of course, Washington, DC.

Sharp was the youngest child in a large family with both parents born in 19th century Missouri, their history forming a starting point for "Jacob's Cellar" and "Time Is the Oven," (both published late 2012) tales of rural protagonists in the fringes of the South. The great grandson of three Civil War soldiers (two Union, one Confederate) and another grandfather displaced by the great conflict, Sharp explores the Civil War's impact on ordinary men and women caught up in the war and its aftereffects.

From an interview with Tic Toc Book Reviews (

On influences: "This may be surprising to most who have read The Duke Don't Dance. While my work has been compared (quite over-the-top) to Henry James, Joseph Heller and Evelyn Waugh, my greatest influence by far actually has been Isabel Allende, particularly her work up through Paula. She greatly informs my treatment of female protagonists and inspires my interest in the evolution of personalities and generations over time."

On writing style: "I always start writing around that initial concept, whether it comes in the beginning, as in Jacob's Cellar, or later in the novel, as in the other two books. The concept provides a time and place anchor that is then elaborated through accurate historical milestones and the emergence of the protagonists interacting within the time frame. The conclusion, driven by the evolution of my characters over the passage of time, is a late development, never the starting point."

"To me, it is important that the protagonists not give a damn about what the reader thinks of them. The characters in a novel should never be pleading to the reader to love them or think they're cool. If protagonists are to seem like real people, they simply can't care that some omniscient narrator is polishing up their image or alter their dialog so that all of the things that one wishes one had said are said. Sometimes that approach tests the reader a bit at the outset until they get into the stream of what's going on. But my protagonists don't care and neither do I. In the end, I think that makes for a better story."

From an Interview with Whitehair365 (

A typical working day. "I wake up early and turn to writing or related research early and work in concentrated intervals with numerous breaks throughout the day. I change my focus among drafting, editing and research frequently. I can usually find one mode that works for the particular moment in time.

The most powerful challenge in writing. "Impatience with my progress. Writing a novel is a marathon, not a forty yard dash and the hills seem to get higher somewhere around mid-course...Technically, I think it is shifting perspectives between protagonists so that they emerge as different personalities. After experimentation with writing in the first person, I switched to third person. However, rather than being the "omniscient narrator," I want my third person prose to mostly reflect the outlook of the main protagonist in a given situation or that of an identifiable observer at the scene. I'm not always successful, but I want the reader to feel increasingly familiar with each protagonist through both the narration and the direct dialog."

The best thing about being an author. " For old codgers like me, writing The Duke Don't Dance is an opportunity to shock the young, raise the dead and drive the unsuspecting right out of their heads. My novels are pretty much about the past, an irreverent contribution to social archeology, so I do enjoy feedback from those who have found some preconception shattered or some vague suspicion confirmed."

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 16 customer reviews
The novel is extremely well researched in music and culture of the time.
Betty J. Cotton
Crystal Ships is a beautifully written historical saga, following the lives of seven friends through two very stormy decades in American history - the 60's and 70's.
R. L. Black
The characters are fully formed, some sympathetic, others annoying and sometimes both in the same characters.
Eileen Rose

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By janeAnne- Sage Companion on November 23, 2013
Format: Paperback
Right away I had to say, “Right On!” as I read the dedication to Richard Sharp’s latest novel, Crystal Ships: “Dedicated to the survivors of America’s decades of discontent and the writers, musicians, artists and entertainers who helped them through it.”

As I turned the pages, propelled by the drama, my heart pounding, I wanted to escape to a softer place, but the unfolding tale was relentless and I could not put it down.

Crystal Ships might be regarded as a companion piece to Sharp’s prize-winning Indie novel, The Duke Don’t Dance as it is equally immersed in the popular culture and politics of its time. But unlike The Duke Don’t Dance which paints a picture of a generation, Sharp’s latest novel focuses on a specific period -- 1960-1978.

You will find that it reveals the spirit of this period, encompassing tragedy, social and cultural perspectives, and humor. Dedicated to the survivors it must be.

Of Crystal Ships, CreateSpace says: “A sweeping saga of American idealism and disillusionment, Richard Sharp’s exquisite Crystal Ships traces the lives of seven friends through two decades of violence, hope, and cultural change Sharp spins an epic tale that starts back in the heady days of the Kennedy administration, when Camelot appeared as a shining beacon of hope for all Americans.”

Yes—and then there is the intensity! Indeed, Richard Sharp has done it again!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Luv to read on December 27, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Make no mistake when you purchase this novel, Richard Sharp is a storyteller - one of the finest I've ever read. Leaving no detail out when you take this journey with Gil, Shane, Lucy, Camille, Connor and Ira that starts in the 60's, you'll find yourself right smack dab in their shoes as there is nothing new under then sun, only the way it is written. Sexual tension - passion - the dreams of youth - yearning for more - reaching for the stars, along with the disappointments life hands to everyone - it's all wrapped up in one perfect rendition dedicated to the 50th memorial of JFK's assassination.
Romance, paranormal, post-apolyptic, and vampires are fun to read, but, I get hungry for something I can chew on - learn from - think about. And, early on, when I read, "She had a forboding almost from the beginning. Kennedy was different and bad things happen to those who are different--" I was hooked.
Sharp has so much knowledge, and a way of putting words together that are melodic that he leaves me awestruck. How can anyone know this much and have the talent to pull it all together that actually makes sense?
Hungry for a good book with lots of meat to chew on? Characters you will relate to? An intriguing story? Then this is your book.
I recommend this to all ages as the young will not only relate, but understand that what they are going through their parents have gone through. I recommend it to those who have lived through JFK's assassination and know the confusion and pain it caused - for those who will never live through it, but know how frustrating life can be, and for everyone who enjoys a great story.
Looking forward to the next Sharp novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By stevekohlhagen on January 3, 2014
Format: Paperback
Richard Sharp has written the novel that many of us baby boomers wanted to write and the rest have been hoping to find. If you were there for the '60's, this is like a time-trip. Every great song, every great artist, every great movie, every tragic war and cultural climax resonates with you like walking back into your childhood home and having the smells transport you back. The characters all go through what either you experienced or your friends did, reacting to the tragedies and the highs from Washington to Dallas to Memphis to Los Angeles to Pretoria to Siagon to San Francisco and back again.

Mix in a murder mystery that won't let you go, and you have a winner.

Humphrey Bogart, as we all know got it wrong at the end of "Casablanca": the problems of eight little people DOES amount to MORE than a hill of beans in this crazy world!

Kudos to Sharp for getting it right!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Betty J. Cotton on January 20, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The author has unique insight into the world of turbulent times his people inhabit. The interpersonal relationships of friendship, love, sex, and tragedy are played out in the national and international events of the 1960's and 70's. The novel is extremely well researched in music and culture of the time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Arthur D. Schwartz on February 19, 2014
Format: Paperback
Crystal Ships is an epic tale of drama that is filled with a sense of uncertain destiny. I was only barely familiar with the song, "The Crystal Ships" by Jim Morrison and The Doors, but after I finished reading Richard Sharp's novel I was intrigued enough to listen to the song even though, by my count, 'crystal ships' is mentioned only four times in the book. But playing the song paid off; Morrison's deeply penetrating voice is filled with a sense of longing that is a combination of desperation and hope. I remember the song from my youth but—as I am wont with many popular songs—I do not listen too well or carefully to the lyrics. But as I listened I realized the brilliance in which Sharp captures Morrison's mood to create a poetic, if not spiritual, foundation for Crystal Ships.

The story begins at points in the late 50s and early 60s as the author builds the biographical backgrounds of his central characters who are two young men from Boston and two young women from New Jersey and through whose lives the historical and cultural upheavals of this a critical period in American history are seen to unfold with a visceral personal almost first-hand intimacy for the reader. The backgrounds of the central characters—two men and two women of Irish and Italian (one Italian-Jewish) extraction, respectively—form a sense of the American melting pot in the confluence that was to transform American society in a melting pot that increasingly was to became not only one of ethnicity but of world interests. John F. Kennedy is himself a historical, iconic figure who represents both the hope of change, and of tragedy and disappointment. Young Americans were inspired to begin careers of public service, and many others were mesmerized by the appeal of Camelot...there was so much hope.
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