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Women Heroes of the American Revolution
Chicago Review Press, 2015, $19.95
It’s funny how the glass ceiling disappears during wartime, when men finally realize they can’t win without the help of courageous women. After the war is over, it’s the men who get most of the glory, recognition and statues erected in their honor. In Women Heroes of the American Revolution, freelance journalist and author Susan Casey profiles 20 women integral to the winning of the American Revolution.
Considered “juvenile non-fiction,” the book is geared toward younger readers, but almost anyone interested in history will appreciate the fascinating, and mostly forgotten, true stories of these American heroes. For example: Teen-aged Sybil Ludington made Paul Revere’s horse ride look like a trot around the park. The 16-year-old rode twice the distance as Revere to help her father, Colonel Ludington, gather his ragtag militia and fight the British. The book’s subtitle, “20 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Defiance, and Rescue,” pretty much sums up the contents of the 200-page book. An extensive bibliography, index and plenty of illustrations, sidebars and recommendations for further reading make this a valuable choice for students and an intriguing read for everyone else.
Sea of Darkness
Brian Hicks with Clive Cussler
Spry Publishing, 2015, $26.95
Dozens of books have been published about the HL Hunley, the mysterious craft behind the world’s first successful submarine attack in 1864 in Charleston Harbor. The HL Hunley was a 40-foot long, 4-foot wide torpedo-laden submarine that sank the comparatively giant U.S. blockade ship U.S.S. Housatanic during the U.S. Civil War. In the process the Hunley and her crew were lost, and stayed lost until 1995. In Sea of Darkness, we go on a journey through time between the early 1860s, when men first dreamed up the idea of an iron submersible, to the modern preservation efforts to save the now 152-year-old ship, whose whereabouts lay shrouded in mystery for 131 years.
Charleston Post and Courier columnist and Hunley historian Brian Hicks wrote the book, featuring a foreward and commentary by acclaimed adventure novelist and marine archaeologist Clive Cussler. It was Cussler’s team who ultimately discovered and raised the Hunley from the muddy bottom and murky waters just off the Charleston peninsula.
In sections the book reads like a historical adventure novel, with all the suggestive and pensive undercurrents of the doomed ship and crew. But Hicks’ true story also pieces together facts about the ship, theories on why she sank and details regarding the ongoing effort to reveal all the secrets the Hunley held for so many years.