Reign of Iron: The Story of the First Battling Ironclads, the Monitor and the Merrimack

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9780060524036: Reign of Iron: The Story of the First Battling Ironclads, the Monitor and the Merrimack

The acclaimed author of the Brethren of the Coast trilogy revisits one of the great American naval battles and a turning point in our history -- the first major work on the subject in thirty-five years. . .

The first ironclad ships to fight each other, the Monitor and the Virginia (Merrimack), were the unique products of American design genius and ingenuity, North and South. In one afternoon, in a battle that lasted four hours, they ended the three-thousand-year tradition of wooden men-of-war and ushered in, as Admiral John A. Dahlgren called it, "the reign of iron."

In this absorbing history, novelist, historian, and tall-ship sailor James L. Nelson, through in-depth research and a storyteller's voice, brilliantly recounts the story of these magnificent ships, the men who built and fought them, and the extraordinary battle that made them legend.

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About the Author:

James L. Nelson has served as a seaman, rigger, boatswain, and officer on a number of sailing vessels. He is the author of By Force of Arms, The Maddest Idea, The Continental Risque, Lords of the Ocean, and All the Brave Fellows -- the five books of his Revolution at Sea Saga. -- as well as The Guardship: Book One of the Brethren of the Coast. He lives with his wife and children in Harpswell, Maine.

From Publishers Weekly:

The Monitor-Merrimack showdown may be one of the Civil War’s most overhyped chestnuts: the two ships were by no means the first ironclads, and their long awaited confrontation proved an anticlimactic draw, their cannon fire clanging harmlessly off each other’s hulls. Still, the author of this lively history manages to bring out the story’s dramatic elements. Nelson, author of the Revolution at Sea series of age-of-sail adventure novels, knows how to narrate a naval crisis. He gives a harrowing account of the Merrimack’s initial onslaught, in which it destroyed two wooden Union warships in a bloody and chaotic battle the day before the Monitor arrived, and of the Monitor’s nightmarish final hours as it foundered in a storm at sea. Equally arresting is his retelling of the feverish race between North and South to beat the other side to the punch with their respective wonder ships. He delves into every aspect of the ships’ innovative design and construction, and draws vivid portraits of the colorful characters who crafted them, especially the brilliant naval architect John Ericsson, one of that epic breed of engineer-entrepreneurs who defined the 19th century. The resulting blend of skillful storytelling and historical detail will please Civil War and naval engineering buffs alike.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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