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|Print List Price:||£5.67|
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Chesapeake 1850 (Steamboats & Oyster Wars: The News Reader) Kindle Edition
|Length: 109 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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|Age Level: 8 - 18|
|Grade Level: 3 - 12|
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A review by Anthony T. Riggio of Ken Rossignol's "Chesapeake 1850" (Steamboats & Oyster Wars: The News Reader)
I purchased this book on Kindle and having been somewhat familiar with the Chesapeake Bay and being a charter member of the Chesapeake Bay, Bluefish and Beverage Society, circa 1981 thru 1995, a group of supervisors from FBIHQ who would fish two or three time a year from Maryland on a Charter boat and spend the day fishing and "beering".
In any event, the title caught my attention and I thought it would be interesting to read about some of the history of the Chesapeake Bay. As I began to read the book, I was pleasantly surprised to see it dealt with issues on the Bay involving the Civil War, as this is one of my favorite parts of American History.
The story involves a young boy named Ethan Douglas who effectively grows up on a steamboat operated by his grandpa. It deals with the history and issues involving maritime commerce and passenger transportation during the time before and after the Civil War. The story revolves around the adventures of the ten year old Ethan Douglas as he grows into a very a successful seafarer on the Chesapeake. He falls in love with the daughter of President Zachery Taylor. Being unfamiliar with the life of Taylor I had to search out the daughter of Taylor and who she actually married. I could not verify this point as an historical fact but this does not affect the overall historical accuracy's of the story.
I totally loved the fact that Ethan was a newspaper reader for the passengers on board the steamboat. The times before and subsequent to the Civil War, newspaper articles are both entertaining and informative. This is an excellent book for anyone interested in these times and especially recommended for the young reader. It is a remarkable fun book to read and sets out a sort of story of growing success and successes of Ethan Douglas' siblings. I learned some things about the history of the Bay, namely the wars between Oystermen and how incredibly lawless they were.
I gave this book a rating of five stars because it is both a fast and very informative historical read and the story of successes of a family.
Target Audience/Genre: This is historical fiction.
What was the Amazon Rank on the date this review was published? 222,043.
Q - How was this book obtained?
A - I don't recall, but it may have been a complementary copy in exchange for an honest review.
Q - Is this a book that I can read without having to read others first?
A – Yes.
Q - Are there a lot of typos/misspellings, grammatical errors or other editing failures?
A – No, I didn't notice any.
Q - Is this a fast, easy read or is it more of a leisure read?
A – It’s a fast read, but also is a good audio production at Audible.
Q - What sort of language does this writer use to amplify the points made?
A – Plain English. No profanities.
Q - My biggest pleasure or disappointment?
A - What I most appreciated was the folksy tone that read much like a memoir from the time period.
What I would have better appreciated would have been more depth into the main character's life and, especially, his budding romance.
I’ve included a small excerpt below, so readers can peruse the style of presentation utilized by the author.
When we had arrived in Washington, Molly and her mother had been met by a horse-drawn coach. They were the fanciest steeds I had ever seen, and the coach was brilliantly painted.
That night, my grandfather and I also left the ship, something we did only in Washington and Baltimore, where the steamship company paid for a hotel room for the captain. We were each able to take a hot bath and went to a nice café to eat. Truthfully, we had better food on the Savannah , where homemade crab cakes were a daily event, but the hot baths and nice hotel were hard to beat.
The next morning, we walked down to the docks and onto an elevated platform. We stopped to watch the Negroes being sold at the slave market. Not having had any slaves in our family, the only colored folks I’d had contact with were the stevedores on the Savannah , who weren’t slaves but free men who worked for wages. Grandpa and I had seen the slave markets in Annapolis and Baltimore, but the one in Washington was held just once a month. Grandpa told me that the sales weren’t that good as there wasn’t much need in the city for slaves; they were just done for show, to prove that they had the legal right to sell and buy slaves in the National City. Just across the river, in Alexandria, there was a bustling slave trade, and we often passed by the auction house on our way to pick up a newspaper at that port.
We had picked up several newspapers that morning near the hotel, and they would provide plenty for Grandpa and me to read and talk about each evening until we got to Annapolis. We would be able to buy more newspapers there.
Grandpa was reading to me about the slaves, and how New Mexico and California were soon to join the Union and be without slaves. The great debate was all about extending slavery into the soon-to-be new states. President Taylor, though he owned slaves himself on his plantations in Mississippi and Louisiana, made it clear to the Southerners that he would not tolerate talk of secession. He set plans in motion for laws that would allow California and New Mexico to skip the territorial status and create their constitutions immediately, which would ban slavery.
As Grandpa read the articles, he paused and asked me if I had any questions.
"If someone buys a slave and that slave turns out be faulty, say, he fails to work hard, can they return them for a refund?”
"Boy, that sure sounds reasonable, but the auctioneer states at the beginning of the auction that all sales are final.”
"When President Taylor said he would round up and hang anyone who dared to split up the Union, do you think he meant those words?”
This is an interesting novel that also acquaints readers with a unique perspective on the history of a key region leading up to, and during, the greatest conflict the United States has thus far faced.
I read the second book (Chesapeake 1880) before reading this one. I highly recommend reading Chesapeake 1850 BEFORE reading Chesapeake 1880.
Comments regarding your opinion of this book or of my review, whether favorable or unfavorable, are always welcome. If you buy the book based on my review and become disappointed, especially, I do want to know that and I want to understand how I can improve as a book reviewer. Just please be polite.
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