The Challenge

A. B. C. Whipple, Author, Connie Roosevelt, Editor William Morrow & Company $19.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-688-07112-7
Though their heyday lasted little more than a decade in the mid-19th century, the magnificent clipper ships, for many people, embodied the American spirit in their speed and beauty. But there was a dark side to the glamour of the clipper trade. Experienced, willing seamen were not available; ""crimps'' collected the dregs of society by force or chicanery and put them on board the clippers, where they suffered under the appalling brutality of the officers. The maiden journey of Challenge, commanded by Captain Robert Waterman and a sadistic first mate, is perhaps the most notorious example of the terrible conditions that prevailed. Whipple, author of Tall Ships and Great Captains, has set the story of that controversial voyage amid a colorful general history of these vessels and the men who built and sailed them. We follow the Flying Cloud on its maiden voyage, with Captain Creesy and his wife Eleanor, an expert navigator. One month later, in 1851, Challenge and Captain Waterman leave New York, hoping to set a new record on the Cape Horn run to San Francisco. Maritime history buffs won't want to miss this one. Photos not seen by PW. (June 16)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1987
Release date: 06/01/1987
Paperback - 978-0-688-08908-5
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