James L. Nelson, Author . Morrow $24.95 (432p) ISBN 978-0-06-019969-2

Nelson (By Force of Arms), the author of two nautical series, offers an exciting stand-alone naval warfare adventure. This time his hero is an officer in the battered and ill-equipped Confederate Navy during the American Civil War. Shortly after the fall of Fort Sumter in 1861, Lt. Samuel Bowater resigns his commission in the U.S. Navy, torn between his pledge of loyalty to the Union and his loyalty to his home state, South Carolina. Aided by his family's influence and his previous military experience, he joins the fledgling Confederate Navy, where he is assigned to be captain of an old steam-powered tugboat converted into a gunboat. Like all of Nelson's captains, Bowater is bright, brave, resourceful and disciplined. His crew, however, is a motley collection of landsmen and sailors, men who fall under the influence of the enigmatic chief engineer, Hieronymus Taylor, the violin-playing dictator of the engine room. With the old gunboat and an unpredictable crew, Bowater is at quite a disadvantage in his battles with the powerful Union navy, especially during the spectacular battle for Roanoke Island. Meanwhile, a Mississippi plantation owner, Robley Paine, loses his three sons at the first battle of Bull Run, and he devises a crazy scheme to protect the river frontage of his property. Bowater, Taylor and the crew team up with Paine in a futile defense of New Orleans. This solid story is filled with Civil War and naval history, focusing on steam-powered warships and ironclads and on the courage of men who sailed into shot and shell for a hopeless cause. Nelson also adds suspense, romance and a bit of mystery, leaving plenty of room for the obvious sequel. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 03/31/2003
Release date: 04/01/2003
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 432 pages - 978-0-06-186021-8
Paperback - 666 pages - 978-0-552-15097-2
Ebook - 432 pages - 978-0-06-136452-5
Open Ebook - 432 pages - 978-0-06-136451-8
Paperback - 432 pages - 978-0-06-095905-0
Ebook - 432 pages - 978-0-06-136456-3
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 432 pages - 978-0-06-136454-9
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