The Sea Shall Embrace Them: The Tragic Story of the Steamship Arctic

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Free Press, 2002 - History - 241 pages
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The 1854 collision at sea between the Arctic and the Vesta, a much smaller French steamship, set in motion one of the most harrowing events in maritime history, with enormous and tragic consequences. David W. Shaw, who brings decades of experience as a seaman to his writing, has based this riveting tale on the firsthand testimony of the few who survived the wreck, including its heroic captain, James C. Luce.

It is the story of the brave and dutiful Luce fighting his mutinous crew as they take the lifeboats, leaving hundreds of men, women, and children to suffer a cruel and painful death. It is also the story of those who survived the frigid waters and those who perished -- including Luce's own frail son, who died as the grief-stricken captain helplessly watched. Not only did 400 people die by daybreak, the wreck brought to an end the domination of the seas by the American maritime fleet.

Utterly compelling, beautifully written, and a fascinating, heretofore little-known slice of American history, "The Sea Shall Embrace Them" is a stirring narrative that puts the reader on the deck as a shipful of men, women, and children do battle both with a mighty ocean and with their own baser instincts to survive.

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THE SEA SHALL EMBRACE THEM: The Tragic Story of the Steamship Arctic

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

A sensitive history of the doomed steamship Arctic and her courageous captain, demonstrating the ability of a veteran sailor and maritime author (Flying Cloud, 2000) to render nautical history both ... Read full review

The sea shall embrace them: the tragic story of the steamship Arctic

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Maritime writer Shaw (Inland Passage) believes that the 1850s were the "glory days" of the American transatlantic steamship trade. However, during that same period, the competition among international ... Read full review


Gentlemanly Demeanor
Symmetry of Form
Sea Trial

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About the author (2002)

David W. Shaw brings decades of experience as a seaman to his writing. The author of Inland Passage, Daring the Sea, and Flying Cloud, Shaw writes extensively for yachting magazines. He has contributed to Sail, Cruising World, Offshore, and many other boating publications. He lives in New Jersey with his wife, Elizabeth, and sails in Maine.

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