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To the Uttermost Ends of the Earth: The Epic Hunt for the South's Most Feared Ship--And the Greatest Sea Battle of the Civil War Audio CD – Unabridged, April 12, 2022
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The enthralling story of the greatest Civil War battle at sea by the award-winning and bestselling historians Phil Keith and Tom Clavin.
On June 19, 1864, just off the coast of France, one of the most dramatic naval battles in history took place. On a clear day with windswept skies, the dreaded Confederate raider Alabama faced the Union warship Kearsarge in an all-or-nothing fight to the finish, the outcome of which would effectively end the threat of the Confederacy on the high seas. Authors Phil Keith and Tom Clavin introduce some of the crucial but historically overlooked players, including John Winslow, captain of the USS Kearsarge, as well as Raphael Semmes, captain of the CSS Alabama and one of the South's greatest heroes. Readers will sail aboard the Kearsarge as Winslow embarks for Europe with a set of simple orders from the secretary of the navy: Travel to the uttermost ends of the earth, if necessary, to find and destroy the Alabama. Winslow pursued Semmes in a spectacular fourteen-month chase over international waters, culminating in what would become the climactic sea battle of the Civil War.
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- ASIN : B09FSCDN82
- Publisher : Hanover Square Press; Unabridged edition (April 12, 2022)
- Language : English
- ISBN-13 : 979-8200864041
- Item Weight : 7.2 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.7 x 1.1 x 5.6 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,389,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Immediately I was captivated in the first few chapters as the authors prepped the reader with neccessary background information. However, after reading well over a hundred pages I was still being prepped. Where in the beginning the main protagonists were identified and one will learn how they ended up being on each perspective ship. I did sort of weary after awhile and was ready to move on. I almost dreaded yet another character being introduced as the reader had to learn that character's history. That will not be a burden for most readers and should not be taken as a negative. In fact these descriptions define who the people are. It just became a lot to keep up with and I was anxious to read about the actual battle as advertised in the title.
When I finally got to the battle I was not disappointed. The description was fantastic. There were even examples how the real time could have differed by a few minutes based on each Captain's time keeping device. This part of the book and also some previous battle descriptions, was absolutely exciting and a page turner.
One should not be discouraged about reading this part of history however, because the research is so defining. Very well done.
I have never read a thing about civil war naval battles and I really didn't think there were any as the North had very successfully blockaded the south most of the war.
The Alabama was a pivotal ship with an incredible Captain. All in all this was a very good book.
The "hunt" by the US Navy is not dealt with until the last three chapters of the book. Until then you will have to be satisfied with descriptions of the lives of the participants and a tally of the number of merchant ships the CS Alabama sank. Conflict with the Union Navy didn't happen until the final months of the war so sea battle descriptions are not on the menu.
Don't get me wrong, the participant's lives are interesting and worth your time, but the writing is dry when it should have been engaging. An attempt is made to ascribe motivations as to why some naval officers stayed with the Union while others joined "the cause" but this section is brief and not enlightening. What was going on at home while the subjects sailed the seas? Touched on and dropped. What about the lives of the secondary officers on the Alabama? Only one of them gets any ink and not until late in the book.
Naval books are a favorite of mine and I love to (vicariously) feel the salt air in my face and hear the sounds of the ocean. If you are looking for that kind of retelling - read O'Brien again. If you are happy reading an extended Wikipedia entry - this is the book for you.
1 – A history of the Confederate raider CSS Alabama and its captain, Raphael Semmes (50 pgs)
2 – A history of the Union warship USS Kearsarge and its captain, John Winslow (70 pgs)
3 – The Alabama’s attacks on Union shipping -- and the Kearsarge’s search for the Alabama (50 pgs)
4 – The battle between the Alabama and the Kearsarge (60 pgs)
So slightly over 50% of the book talked about the lives of Semmes and Winslow plus the drama behind the construction of the Alabama and the Kearsarge. Certainly the reader should have some background on those key participants who were engaged in an epic battle. But 50% was excessive.
As for the section on the Alabama’s attacks on Union merchant ships, that section should have been expanded somewhat because it was the Alabama’s great success in sinking so many Union merchant ships that forced the Union Navy to dispatch the Kearsarge (and other ships) to the “uttermost ends of the earth” on a search and destroy mission against the Alabama.
The battle itself was as interesting and exciting (and gory) as one would have expected.
One other comment: The book title also says “the Greatest Sea Battle of the Civil War“. That’s excessive hyperbola because surely most would agree that battle between the Monitor and the Merrimac was “the greatest sea battle of the Civil War”.
Bottom line: Good coverage of an important Civil War sea battle. But it felt like there was lots of filler so that the description this historical event was book-sized.