SHIP OF GOLD IN THE DEEP BLUE SEA by Gary Kinder

SHIP OF GOLD IN THE DEEP BLUE SEA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The truly fascinating tale of the first successful deep-water ocean salvage operation is a tribute to good, old-fashioned American ingenuity and grit—with a big dose of Titanic-like adventure to boot. In 1857, the SS Central America sank in 9,000 feet of water off the Carolina coast. Lost were nearly 500 California miners and their gold. It was the biggest maritime disaster in US history at that time, and the huge gold loss contributed to the financial panic of 1857. Because ocean explorers lacked the technology to work in blue water, the wreck lay undisturbed for 130 years. Then came Tommy “Harvey” Thompson, an innovative engineer and maverick thinker from Columbus, Ohio. Using sophisticated search theory and historical research to locate the wreck, Thompson and his talented helpers then designed and built a pathbreaking recovery robot (something the US government had failed to do, despite a huge expenditure of research dollars) in only months, using off-the-shelf components, on a shoestring budget, and in top secrecy. Kinder (Light Years: An Investigation into the Extraterrestrial Experiences of Eduard Meier, 1987) alternates between Thompson’s decade-long quest to gather the necessary investors and technicians and a gripping re-creation of the doomed ship’s voyage based on survivors’ accounts. (Unlike the Titanic, the Central America tragedy occasioned great heroism; male passengers bailed relentlessly for hours and other ship crews risked their lives to evacuate women and children.) The driven genius Thompson and his crew brought a scientific approach to ocean salvage sorely missing in the operations of the typical hit-and-run treasure hunters who plunder shallow water wrecks. Greater than average scientific, financial, and archaeological dividends are their rewards. Kinder’s well-told tale of the Central America recovery (which represents nothing less than the opening of a new frontier in the deep ocean) is one of the great scientific adventure stories of our times. (First printing of 150,000; $250,000 ad/promo; Book-of-the-Month Club/Quality Paperback Book Club main selection; author tour)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-87113-464-0
Page count: 496pp
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1998




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