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A Thread Across the Ocean: The Heroic Story of the Transatlantic Cable [Paperback]

John Steele Gordon
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 July 2002
On January 8th, 1815, 5300 British troops attacked 4500 entrenched and prepared Americans outside New Orleans. In a battle lasting half an hour, the British suffered casualties totalling 2036. American casualties were 21. It remains to this day the worst defeat in the whole long history of the British Army. But the battle affected the outcome of the war not a bit, for the war was already over and had been for two weeks. A treaty of peace had been signed in Ghent on 24th December, to take immediate effect everywhere upon receipt of the news. Today, in a world in which news, complete with live pictures, flashes around the globe in an instant, time lags such as this are almost inconceivable. No one then thought the situation might be more than marginally improved, or that the US would ever be anything but remote from Europe, the centre of world affairs. But only 40 years later, a group of extraordinary men decided to use the emerging technology of telegraphy to bridge the Atlantic and unite the Old and New Worlds. "A Thread across the Ocean" tells the story of their epic struggle, one that would requite a decade of effort, millions of dollars in capital, the solution of innumerable technological problems - many of them entirely unforeseen before work commenced - and uncommon physical, financial and intellectural courage. But when they were done, these men had changed the world.


Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd (1 July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743208099
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743208093
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.2 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 788,896 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

John Steele Gordon is a noted business historian, and contributor to The New York Times, Forbes and M. He is the author of The Great Game: The Emergence of Wall Street as a World Power: 1653 - 2000 and Hamilton's Blessing: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Our National Debt.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Suprisingly fascinating! 18 Oct 2004
Format:Hardcover
In 1853, entrepreneur Cyrus Field was introduced to Frederick Gisbourne, a man whose idea of laying a telegraph cable across the Atlantic, from Ireland to Newfoundland, had collapsed. Realizing the potential in such an undertaking, Field set up a corporation, and with unflagging energy he set out to make the transatlantic cable a reality. The New York Herald hailed the undertaking as, "the grandest work which has ever been attempted by the genius and enterprise of man." The project captured the imagination of the United States and United Kingdom, but few could foresee the trouble and hardships that the project would encounter.
I must admit that my wife gave me a strange look when I showed her this book. How could a book about a cable be interesting? Well, the fact is that author John Steele Gordon succeeds at making the story absolutely fascinating! After a rather confusing first chapter, the book launches into the story of the Atlantic Cable, the men who built it, and the society in which it appeared. The author succeeds in grabbing your imagination, making you turn page after page, dying to see what happens next. I really enjoyed this book, and recommend it to everyone!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book gives a very readable and at times emotional account of the venture to lay the first submerged telegraph cable across the Atlantic Ocean in the mid 19th Century. This is undoubtably one of man's greatest achievements and has had a profound impact on the world, yet today, the story of this great undertaking is hardly known. The ongoing struggle to fund the project, the immense technical and operational challenge, the numerous failed attempts, the current political and business climate at that time, are all part of this fascinating story of mankind's drive to acheive great things and to struggle on in the face of adversity. A great story of the industrial revolution, and a must read for any budding entrepreneur or risk taker as this is the ultimate story of one man's perseverance and battle against the odds to change the world.
My only reservation (and this may be a personal one as I am a technologist) is that I would have liked more technical information on how the system actually worked, although I do concede that this lack of technical detail may make for a more readable book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A TALE OF MAMMOTH DETERMINATION AND RESOLVE 14 Aug 2009
By DOPPLEGANGER TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Cyrus Field's energy, commitment and, it must be said, seemingly to all others his unwarranted optimism, drove through this world changing event.

He got together a group of great minds, Samuel Morse, William Thomson (later Lord Kelvin), Isambard Kingdom Brunel and many others to use the emerging technology of telegraphy to bridge the Atlantic with a cable and unite the Old and New Worlds.

The struggle to succeed required 10 years of Field's effort, millions of dollars in investment, the solution of many technological problems and the necessity for him to cross the Atlantic repeatedly to 'keep the show on the road' when spirits and investment were flagging.

That Field succeeded is one one the greatest entrepreneurial achievements of the 20th century and is recounted in a gripping and most interesting way by the author John Steele Gordon. You do not need to be an adherent to any specific area of interest to thoroughly enjoy this true tale of derring-do.
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