Beyond the Book: Background information when reading That Anvil of Our Souls

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Read-Alikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

That Anvil of Our Souls

A Novel of the Monitor and the Merrimack

by David Poyer

That Anvil of Our Souls by David Poyer X
That Anvil of Our Souls by David Poyer
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jun 2005, 438 pages

    Jul 2006, 432 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team
Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book

This article relates to That Anvil of Our Souls

Print Review

The USS 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 by the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. The steam engine and turret of the Monitor were recovered in 2002 for display with other artifacts at the Mariner's Museum, Newport News, Va.

John Ericsson is probably best remembered today as the designer of the Monitor, but he invented and designed many other things as well.  He was born in Sweden in 1803.  At 17 he joined the Swedish army as a map-maker and was so good at his job he was paid double for his work.  In his twenties he moved to London, England where, amongst other things, he entered the now historic locomotive design contest with his engine Novelty, which lost to Stephensons' Rocket.  He came to America in 1839 to promote the screw propeller and stayed for the next 50 years developing ships and ordnance for the navy, including the Monitor, a fully iron steam vessel with a revolving turret, driven by a screw propeller instead of the usual paddle wheel.

Filed under

This "beyond the book article" relates to That Anvil of Our Souls. It originally ran in August 2005 and has been updated for the July 2006 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Become a Member

Join BookBrowse today to start discovering exceptional books!

Find out more

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Hello Beautiful
    Hello Beautiful
    by Ann Napolitano
    Ann Napolitano's much-anticipated Hello Beautiful pulls the reader into a warm, loving familial ...
  • Book Jacket: The West
    The West
    by Naoíse Mac Sweeney
    It's become common for history books and courses to reconsider the emphasis on "Western Civilization...
  • Book Jacket
    A Death in Denmark
    by Amulya Malladi
    Can a mystery novel be informative, intriguing and deeply comforting all at once? Amulya Malladi ...
  • Book Jacket
    Shrines of Gaiety
    by Kate Atkinson
    A few years ago, magazines ran pieces about how the 2020s were likely to be the 1920s all over again...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
The First Conspiracy
by Brad Meltzer & Josh Mensch
A remarkable and previously untold piece of American history—the secret plot to kill George Washington

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Pieces of Blue
    by Holly Goldberg Sloan

    A hilarious and heartfelt novel for fans of Maria Semple and Emma Straub.

  • Book Jacket

    Hotel Cuba
    by Aaron Hamburger

    A stunning novel about two Russian Jewish sisters, desperate to get to the U.S. but trapped in the hedonistic world of 1920s Havana.

Win This Book
Win Such Kindness

30 Copies to Give Away!

Few writers paint three-dimensional characters with such verve and humanism.
Booklist (starred review)



Solve this clue:

S I F A R Day

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.