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Wednesday, December 27, 2017
FIRE in the WATER by James Alexander Thom
Published in 2015 by Blue River Press
Not many people know about the horrible story of the Sultana, a paddlewheel steamboat that sank into the Mississippi River in April of 1865. It is the worst maritime disaster in American history but was largely overshadowed by the events surrounding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and his dramatic funeral train tour from Washington, D.C. to Springfield, Illinois. The Sultana was grossly overcrowded. It was designed to carry 376 passengers, but it was carrying 2,155 passengers when three of its boilers exploded in the early morning hours of April 27, 1865. Most of its passengers were survivors of the infamous Andersonville prisoner of war camp that were being shipped home.
This book is technically a sequel to Saint Patrick's Battalion. It continues the story of a boy who traveled with an American army during the Mexican War. In Fire in the Water, that boy has grown up and become a famous war correspondent. He is traveling to Springfield with his newlywed wife to cover Lincoln's funeral. Along the way, he interviews as many of the former prisoners of war to work on a story about Andersonville.
This book starts out too slowly, but the last 50 pages or so are full of the kind of magic that James Alexander Thom can bring to historical fiction.
I rate this book 4 stars out of 5.
This book can be found on Amazon.com here: Fire in the Water by James Alexander Thom.