Featured favorites: Salty maritime books
Martha's Vineyard Times File Photo
Recommended by Book Den East
"A Conrad Argosy" (1942) – With an introduction by William McFee and woodcut illustrations by Mueller, this is a collection of Joseph Conrad's classic maritime fiction from the early decades of the 20th century. 713 pages. $25.
"Life in a Man-Of-War or Scenes in Old Ironsides During Her Cruise in The Pacific" by Fore-Top-Man (1927) – A reprint of the 1841 publication covering the U.S.S. Constitution's flag-showing cruise from April 1839 to October 1841 in wonderful detail, as experienced by a simple sailor with a gift for narrative. Limited edition. $90.
"To the South Seas" by Gifford Pinchot (1930) – Relating the adventures of a schooner cruise to the Galapagos, Marquesas, Tuamotu Islands, and Tahiti is redolent of the romance of a bygone era. Illustrated with more than 250 photographs and wood engravings, this first edition copy is signed by the author. $80.
"Anchors Aweigh! Tales of Wooden Ship Days" edited by Oliver G. Swan (1929) – A collection of sea yarns and lore for the entertainment and edification of anyone fascinated by the age of wooden ships and iron men. Color illustrations include the frontispiece by N.C. Wyeth. $25.
"The Incredible Voyage: A Personal Odyssey" by Tristan Jones (1978) is the maniacal tale of the author's determination to sail his small boat on the lowest body of navigable water (The Dead Sea) and the highest (Lake Titicaca) and the ocean waters in between. The story is enough to make the timbers of any armchair adventurer shiver. $15.
Recommended by Edgartown Books
"The Chappy Ferry Book" by Tom Dunlop – Out last summer and still popular, Dunlop gives a thorough history of the Chappy Ferry, the owners, and captains it has had over the years. With beautiful photographs taken by Alison Shaw, the book is visually a pleasure to look at as well as fun to read.
"Disaster off Martha's Vineyard" by Tom Dresser – Local author Dresser writes about the unfortunate shipwreck of the City of Columbus in the 19th century off Aquinnah. Dresser recounts the series of events that led to the horrible wreck that claimed 103 lives. A great read for those interested in the maritime history of the Vineyard.
"The Admirals" by Walter R. Borneman – New in paperback, "The Admirals" reveals the history of how four five-star American admirals triumphed in World War II and made the United States the world's dominant sea power. Drawing on information from journals, ship logs, and other primary sources, Borneman tells the story of how they revolutionized naval warfare in a way that brings this historical moment to life.
"Mayflower" by Nathaniel Philbrick – New England author Nathaniel Philbrick tells the story of the voyage of the Mayflower and the settlement of Plymouth Colony. From the Mayflower's Atlantic crossing to King Philip's War between colonists and natives decades later, Philbrick reveals in this electrifying history of the Pilgrims a 55-year epic, at once tragic and heroic, that still resonates today.
"Stories of the Sea" edited by Diana Secker Tesdell – A gathering of the best maritime fiction from the last 200 years features authors such as Joseph Conrad, Rudyard Kipling, Stephen Crane, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Jack London. With intriguing tales of shipwrecks, storms, and oceanic creatures, these stories are sure to keep readers of all ages engaged.
Recommended by Bunch of Grapes
"The Wave" by Susan Casey – For hundreds of years sailors have told stories of huge waves in the sea. Scientists and others wrote them off as exaggerations or "sea stories." In 2000, scientists discovered that these waves were no mere exaggerations when an oceanographic ship was faced with one. Casey brings us riveting stories of some of the ships that have been hit by these waves, how the waves possibly are formed, and the surfers who travel the world seeking them.
"Breverton's Nautical Curiosities: A Book of the Sea" by Terry Breverton – A fun book for the lover of anything nautical. The book is divided into thematic chapters: the ocean environment, types of ships, pirates, heroes and captains, disasters and battles, stories and myths, and nautical slang. A fun compilation of the overlooked and the completely extraordinary. It might make the reader want to dig deeper or make them a star at the next cocktail party.
"A Short Bright Flash: Augustin Fresnel and the Birth of the Modern Lighthouse" by Theresa Levitt – In the early 1800s Fresnel invented a lens for lighthouses that could bend light from a source into a far reaching beam. This far surpassed the mirror-equipped lenses that absorbed half of the light instead of reflecting it. By 1859, all American lighthouses were equipped with a Fresnel lamp. During the Civil War, it had a huge impact on naval warfare and harbor defense.
"Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before" by Tony Horwitz – James Cook, one of eight children, began his life on a farm in England. During his teens he moved to the coast and became one of the greatest and best known explorers, navigators, cartographers, and captains. He sailed thousands of miles, from Newfoundland to New Zealand, leaving a legacy of both scientific and geographic knowledge. Our own Tony Horwitz sailed in a replica of Cook's ship, giving us a wild but informative ride.
"The Riddle of the Sands" by Erskine Childers – When a young man's friend invites him on a sailing adventure in the Baltic, he imagines duck hunting and yachting. Little did he know that the trip would turn into an adventure. They discover suspicious German activity on the coastline. What did it mean? Were the Germans plotting an invasion? What could these two young adventurers do? Written in 1903, this classic piece of espionage literature is considered the first spy novel by many.