Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Broos Campbell’s No Quarter - A Review

What is so intriguing about Broos Campbell’s No Quarter, the first book of his Matty Graves series, is that while it follows the general conventions of Georgian naval fiction, it is remarkably original in setting, character and outlook. Campbell has chosen a fascinating and often overlooked period of history - the “Quasi-war” between the young American republic and the French - a time of shifting alliances when it is not always easy to tell friend from foe both internationally and within the fledgling Navy.

Matty Graves is a seventeen year old master’s mate aboard the U.S. Navy’s armed schooner Rattle-Snake. The novel opens on the day after Christmas, 1799. George Washington’s funeral procession is passing through the streets of Baltimore, from which the Rattle-Snake is preparing to sail. It is a moment of tremendous change for the young nation and its navy, leaving Matty Graves to navigate the shoals of ambiguity and uncertainty that constantly shift around him.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

What to do with Modern Pirates?

One of the powers and responsibilities of the US Congress, under Article 1 Section 8, Clause 10 of the US Constitution, is “to define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations.“ It seems relatively straight forward. Why then has the US Navy usually released Somali pirates who have been captured at sea?
The problem is that, notwithstanding a Constitutional mandate to do so, the US doesn’t want to hold the pirates. The same is true with all the other naval forces in the region. This catch and release policy seems more appropriate for managing trout fisheries than for protecting the lives and property of those at sea. Part of the problem lies in the first words of Clause 10 - “to define and punish piracies “. The discussion of exactly how to define and punish piracy is definitely ongoing.
A detailed and very interesting look at what to do with captured pirates has been published in the Tulane Maritime Law Journal by Michael H. Passman, entitled “Protections Afforded to Captured Pirates Under the Law of War and International Law“.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Defying Empire: Trading with the Enemy in Colonial New York

Thomas Truxes, senior lecturer inthe history department at Trinity University, as new book which looks fascinating - Defying Empire: Trading with the Enemy in Colonial New York.
“This enthralling book is the first to uncover the story of New York City merchants who engaged in forbidden trade with the enemy before and during the Seven Years’ War (also known as the French and Indian War). Ignoring British prohibitions designed to end North America’s wartime trade with the French, New York’s merchant elite conducted a thriving business in the French West Indies, insisting that their behavior was protected by long practice and British commercial law. But the government in London viewed it as treachery, and its subsequent efforts to discipline North American commerce inflamed the colonists.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Lightship Nantucket - Part 2: A New Paradigm for Ship Preservation

The classic model of ship preservation is to attempt to restore the ship to as close to her original condition as possible, turn her into a museum and support the project through admission fees and fund raising. This approach has worked for some ships but has failed for many more.

It did not succeed for the Nantucket Lightship (MLV-612) which was how Bill and Kristen Golden had the opportunity to buy her on eBay in 2000. It also did not work for the New Bedford Lightship (LV 114 ) which was transferred to the custody of the City of New Bedford, where she languished for thirty years until she was finally scrapped in 2007.

Bill and Kristen Golden took another approach to preserving the lightship.

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