During my formative years, I studied the history of a variety of ships that sank. The two most obvious, of course, were the Titanic, which ran into an iceberg, killing 1,500 souls, and the Lusitania, a British luxury ship that was sunk by the Germans, killing nearly 1,200 souls and contributing to the World War I tragedies. But I had never heard of the sinking of the Pulaski, a steam ship that sank to the bottom of the ocean as it made its way from Savannah, GA, to Baltimore, MD, killing 100 souls in 1838. While I might not have studied it, I’m pretty darn sure it made history class in Savannah. The ship’s boilers exploded the first night at sea, killing some of the wealthiest members of Savannah’s society who were heading to cooler climes for the summer.
Patti Callahan’s historical novel was written following the discovery at long last of the ship in 2018. Yes, friends, that ship stayed lost for 180 years. The discovery of the sunken ship after all these years solved one of the greatest mysteries of our time.
The author tells the story of the explosion, and the fight by some of the people who survived the disaster. Callahan mixes real-life people with fictitious characters to give the reader a taste of how hard people will work to save themselves and the ones they love. The characters are bold and brave. The descriptions of the long days they spent without food or water, baking in the hot sun, and how they survived, are riveting.
The book is part history and part mystery. It was interesting to read and provided me with a history lesson, proving that I still have plenty to learn, even in my dotage!