The Man Who Thought like a Ship (Google eBook)

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Texas A&M University Press, Apr 30, 2012 - Biography & Autobiography - 256 pages
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J. Richard “Dick” Steffy stood inside the limestone hall of the Crusader castle in Cyprus and looked at the wood fragments arrayed before him. They were old beyond belief. For more than two millennia they had remained on the sea floor, eaten by worms and soaking up seawater until they had the consistency of wet cardboard. There were some 6,000 pieces in all, and Steffy’s job was to put them all back together in their original shape like some massive, ancient jigsaw puzzle.
He had volunteered for the job even though he had no qualifications for it. For twenty-five years he’d been an electrician in a small, land-locked town in Pennsylvania. He held no advanced degrees—his understanding of ships was entirely self-taught. Yet he would find himself half a world away from his home town, planning to reassemble a ship that last sailed during the reign of Alexander the Great, and he planned to do it using mathematical formulas and modeling techniques that he’d developed in his basement as a hobby.
The first person ever to reconstruct an ancient ship from its sunken fragments, Steffy said ships spoke to him. Steffy joined a team, including friend and fellow scholar George Bass, that laid a foundation for the field of nautical archaeology. Eventually moving to Texas A&M University, his lack of the usual academic credentials caused him to be initially viewed with skepticism by the university’s administration. However, his impressive record of publications and his skilled teaching eventually led to his being named a full professor. During the next thirty years of study, reconstruction, and modeling of submerged wrecks, Steffy would win a prestigious MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant and would train most of the preeminent scholars in the emerging field of nautical archaeology.
Richard Steffy’s son Loren, an accomplished journalist, has mined family memories, archives at Texas A&M and elsewhere, his father’s papers, and interviews with former colleagues to craft not only a professional biography and adventure story of the highest caliber, but also the first history of a field that continues to harvest important new discoveries from the depths of the world’s oceans.
  

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Review: The Man Who Thought like a Ship

User Review  - Paul - Goodreads

From the technical side the process for ship reconstruction could use more detail and likely more illustration. The narrative itself is pleasant but everything seems inevitable and there is no real ... Read full review

Contents

1 Crooked Aleppo
1
2 Dreams in Paper and Paste
10
Gallery
10
3 Short Circuits
22
4 The Ships Begin to Speak
31
5 Pieces of the Puzzle
42
6 Youre CrazyYoull Starve to Death
53
7 The Reconstructor
64
12 Studies in Mud Charcoal and Bronze
117
13 Genius and Despair
130
14 The Laughter of Aristides
138
15 The Voyage Ends
150
Epilogue
160
Acknowledgments
163
Notes
165
Glossary
177

8 A Dream in Jeopardy
79
9 Mans Failure as a Thinking Animal
91
10 Zoes Garage
100
11 Settling into Mecca
107

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About the author (2012)

LOREN C. STEFFY is a senior writer for 30 Point Strategies, based in Houston. He is an author, speaker, consultant and former journalist. He is the author of Drowning in Oil: BP and the Reckless Pursuit of Profit and The Man Who Thought Like a Ship.
For nine years, Steffy was the business columnist for the Houston Chronicle, and his writing has been published in newspapers and other publications nationwide. He has appeared on CNBC, Fox Business, MSNBC, the BBC, and the PBS NewsHour.

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