In the third volume of David Poyer's monumental Civil War at Sea cycle,
North meets South in the momentous first battle between ironclads.
We first met Elisha Eaker, Theodorus Hubbard, Araminta Van Velsor, Dr.
Alphaeus Steele, Calpurnius Hanks, and Ker and Catherine Claiborne in Fire on
the Waters, witnessing their unwilling but inescapable choosing of sides as
America split into two nations. Then, in A Country of Our Own, Ker took
the war to the North, as captain of the fastest, most heavily armed Confederate
commerce raider ever to put to sea.
Now, That Anvil of Our Souls takes us into the turrets and casemates
of the most decisive sea engagement of the Civil War. In New York, Theo is the
engineer for a revolutionary new "fighting machine" called the Monitor,
and eager to become a man of means...so eager, a bribe compromises his
integrity. In Norfolk, Catherine faces her husband's impending hanging for
piracy, the death of their baby daughter, and the bitter realities of enemy
In Richmond, Lt. Lomax Minter is ordered to find a spy who threatens the
South's ultimate weapon: a tremendous ironclad named Virginia, rebuilt
from a sunken wreck in a race against time. While the aging Dr. Steele witnesses
the horrors that are the aftermath of glory; and gun-captain Hanks, escaped
slave, struggles with the demons of his past and the twin snakes of
Poyer's vivid characters join with meticulously researched historic figures
to re-create the bloodiest conflict in American history -- one whose
reverberations will endure as long as freedom, equality, and home have different
meanings in proud human hearts.
Power is the author of at least 25 novels and is often described as the most popular living author of American sea fiction. In addition to being a novelist, he's also a public policy analyst and a retired naval office. He has written a couple of stand-alone novels but the rest of his books fall into four series - those starring ex-SEAL Tiller Galloway, the Dan Lenson novels set in the modern navy, the Hemlock County novels (his only landlocked series set in the area of Pennsylvania where he grew up), and his Civil War series. (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
A larger cast than Poyer's naval Dan Lenson novels makes for occasional choppiness, but otherwise this book is every bit as good; Poyer makes readers see and feel the blockade and the men who tried to maintain it.
Series best, and for those who see the Civil War as this country's defining drama, simply not to be missed.
Merrimack (scuttled by
the Union forces when they
abandoned the Norfolk Navy Yard
at Portsmouth, VA, and renamed
the Virginia by the
Confederate forces who
subsequently raised her) and the
Monitor (built in about
90 days by John Ericsson) fought the
first engagement between
ironclad ships, in March 1862.
If you can't remember the
outcome I'm not going to tell
you here as it would be a bit of
a plot spoiler!
However, I will tell you that
the Monitor sank in heavy
seas in 1862, and in 1973
scientists discovered the intact
wreck. The site is now protected
Monitor National Marine
Sanctuary. The steam engine
and turret of the Monitor
Both convincing in its portrayal of the collective madness America went through after the carnage of the Civil War, and otherworldly in its contemplation of obsessive grief and longing, Gob's Grief is at once an announcement of a major talent, and an extraordinary achievement in literary art.
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