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Sultana: Surviving the Civil War, Prison, and the Worst Maritime Disaster in American History Paperback – April 6, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Huffman rescues the Sultana tragedy from obscurity and brings the people and events surrounding it to vibrant life...[and] chronicles the explosion and its aftermath in startling detail with a wealth of striking images...A short but moving history that effectively captures both the disaster and the soldiers’ ordeal. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Top Customer Reviews
It is all true, every moment , and it is mostly in the words of the people that lived it.
YOU can walk in their shoes for awhile, you can have the shoes blown right off your feet. And you can live to remember.
Imagine: You went to fight. You get injured in ways you can never recover from,
Your body does not heal. You go to prison. You finally get released and think you are going home to finally get back to the life you remember or what you can still live of it based on your new limitations. And then the worst happens: the ship you are on to take you home - the boiler blows in the middle of the night and the ship catches on fire. You have two choices: Jump into water you know you can't live long in because it is so cold and because people are drowning each other OR
burn alive. It is April 27, 1865 around 2 am...
You will see varying accounts of the number of people on board but this is the worst maritime disaster in United States history, worse than the Titanic and yet you never heard of it. So consider these numbers:
2400 people on board a ship designed to hold 376. Only 700 survivors.
This book will take you there through several individual stories and many diaries and first hand recollections. This book made me empathize my way through the war, prison and the disaster. Many voices, one story: individual but universal.
Go there and see it, live it for a moment. Remember. Pass it on...
An amazing and piteous tale, competently told, it follows a few ordinary soldiers through their entire war experiences and marvels at their extraordinary ability to survive again and again and again. First they survive the chaos of battle and capture, and their terrible wounds, then train wreck en route to POW camps where they endure disease, exposure and disgusting victuals ... and finally they survive the nightmare on the Mississippi. The tales of panic and desperation in the dark, frigid waters are tragic, and one is amazed that anyone lived.
Just as melancholy is the postscript where we learn that surviving the Civil War - like surviving Vietnam or Iraq - so often left a legacy of illness, depression, alcoholism and domestic difficulties. Not a happy read ... but certainly a worthwhile one. For this Australian reader, an introduction to many unknown facets of America's Civil War, and as a maritime historian a sobering addition to my knowledge of shipwreck and disaster.
Huffman takes the long route to get to the meat of the story. We read about friends from Indiana who join the military. We get to meet people like Big Tennessee who really have nothing at all to do with the story. He may (or most likely was not) on the Sultana and legend has it he swam away. We read about prison camps and the hope and despair they caused. Finally we get to the joy of being able to go home and the tragedy that awaited.
Ultimately what we have here is a disjointed work that doesn't really seem to have a focus. The book is 281 pages of text yet we don't hear of the Sultana until page 168. By this point this reader was just hanging on hoping for something to improve. Unfortunately it really didn't. There is no serious discussion regarding the theory that the Confederates had something to do with the explosion. Whether or not Huffman puts any weight to the story it should be addressed if for nothing else but to put it to rest. This could have been done as an appendix if nothing else. I couldn't really get a feel for the ship or the people aboard. While I should have cared about both I found myself looking for the end rather than not wanting it to end.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great detail that reveals an amazing event that is lost in the telling the last days of the Civil War.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Nonfiction. I have read almost every book on the Sultana on Amazon in preparation for my own novel. This book is a lot more than the story of the Sultana. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Christopher Moss
I really enjoyed this book.Huffman interwove stories and experiences of real people into his account of the Sultana disaster. Read morePublished 5 months ago by John Bertrand
Well, if I say Smithsonian, that should be enough of a recommendation. This book focuses on the larger picture of the war, leads to several boys/men who are fighting and captured,... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Gerald B.
Four men from Marion County Ohio survived the sinking of the Sultna.Published 9 months ago by Maxine
Huffman's book on the tragic events leading up to and including the explosion of the Str. SULTANA is a thorough, but different take on the history of this terrible disaster. Read morePublished 13 months ago by ShawsParkTN
I read this book previously and liked, so decided to read it againPublished 14 months ago by Stephen E. Malmquist