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Sea of Darkness: Unraveling the Mysteries of the H.L. Hunley, by Brian Hicks

AnnArbor: Spry Publishing LLC, 2015. Pp. 478. Illus., map, diagr, append., notes, biblio., index. $26.95. ISBN: 1938170601.

The Confederate Submarine Hunley, from its Origins to its Recovery

Author of an earlier book on the Hunley and several other works on the Civil War, journalist Hicks has put together the most comprehensive account of the Confederate submarine, from its origins through its loss, and on to her recovery and conservation nearly 150 years later.

The book opens with an interesting foreword by novelist Clive Cussler, who discovered the wreck of the Hunley. A prologue follows which gives us a vivid account of the events of Feb. 17, 1864, when the Hunley successfully “torpedoed” the screw sloop USS Housatonic, only to sink herself will all eight aboard.

There follow 20 chapters that weave back and forth between the events in the story of the Hunley from H.L. Hunley’s concept of building a submersible torpedo boat to her demise, with the story of Cussler’s efforts to find and recover the boat. This is well told with considerable detail, and some of the conclusions from the forensic examination of the remains (illustrated by reconstructions of the faces of the crew) are quite interesting.

While the curious organization of the book may turn off some readers, this is clearly a definitive account of the Hunley.

Note: Seas of Darkness is also available as an e-book, ISBN 978-1-938170-61-4


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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