Book Review – ‘The Yankee Expedition to Sebastopol: John Gowen and the raising of the Russian Black Sea fleet 1857–1862’ by Howard J. Fuller
This is another self-published naval history by Chuck Veit, the last of which, A Dog Before a Soldier: Almost-lost Episodes in the U.S. Navy’s Civil War (2010), I treated rather unenthusiastically in my review in volume 99: 3 of the Mariner’s Mirror (2013). What an improvement this work is. Technically it is a direct follow-on to Raising Missouri: John Gowen and the salvage of the U.S. Steam Frigate ‘Missouri’ 1843–1852 (2012), continuing almost an adventure narrative of Veit’s hero salvor from Massachusetts in a pattern reminiscent of novelist Clive Cussler’s ‘Dirk Pitt’.
Veit now underscores his ability to dig up lost episodes of history (in fact not even lost since they were never really told to begin with) and throw them into mass-market print. As ever the writing is very lively and enjoyable, and the research this time around is really first-rate, with an overwhelming emphasis upon contemporary newspapers and journals. Original and historical illustrations are plentiful and fascinating. The bibliography’s secondary literature misses out on much, however, including the easily accessible French history of the Crimean War by Bazancourt (1856) which describes the sinking of five ships of the line and two frigates across the harbour entrance, on 23 September, 1854 …