Sultana: Surviving the Civil War, Prison, and the Worst Maritime Disaster in American HistorySultana: Surviving the Civil War, Prison, and the Worst Maritime Disaster in American History by Alan Huffman
Finished reading: 3/21/2012
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Don’t let the only 3 stars fool you, this is a good book. I only give 4 stars to books that absolutely thrill me and 5 stars is for books that I can’t live without.

The weird thing is, I started this book about 5 times and kept putting it aside after the second chapter, but I couldn’t really say why, it wasn’t boring, I just wasn’t getting into it. After I promised someone I would read it, I sat down determined I would read 50 pages a day until I finished it. I read half the book the book that night. The next day I would have finished it, but I was falling asleep because I was tired. I finished it this morning.

After all those starts and stops, once I got into the book, I really got into it. The first few chapters talk about enlisting and how ill-prepared the men were for fighting. He also talks about the psychology of survival. Then he gets into the battles of the Civil War, none of the battle scenes are written in an ‘exciting’ fashion, he doesn’t ‘novelize’ the accounts, just reports the facts, the facts are enough. He relates how each man is captured, the conditions of the prisons and the hospitals. It is a wonder anyone who was injured in the Civil War survived, much less lived to old age.

For men who had survived battle, injury, disease and incarceration at Andersonville, “the worst confederate prison”, the explosion of the Sultana, on their way home, must have added insult to injury so to speak. Even afterwards, there was no justice either, the ones responsible, even when found guilty were not really punished. Officers were allowed to be ‘honorably discharged’.

Ultimately the Sultana inquiries were mostly for show. Even the death toll was never fully reckoned. Officially, it was listed at just more than twelve hundred, which failed to include an entire trainload of passengers from Camp Fisk.

The accepted estimated total was 1,700 dead making it the worst known maritime disaster in America, even eclipsing the Titanic with an estimated 1,500 dead.

And the disaster of the Sultana faded into American history. When I told people I was reading a book called “Sultana” they thought I was reading about a middle eastern princess.

As I said this is a good book, I would recommend it for history lovers, Civil War aficionados, disaster freaks and the like. I use the word freak affectionately. After all I’m a freak myself. It would be interesting to people for its human nature aspects, how people survive the worst and keep going when even worse happens.

For pictures of the Sultana (these were not in the book) click Sultana Photos.

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About Belleza

I got the name Bella because my grandfather called me Suzabell. I use that as a username and my friends on the site started calling me Bella. Thus was born: Bella Foxx's Life, now known as "just a city girl" since I have made the big jump from the country and am now living in the City, UES. I like to make jewelry (check out my blog "Bella is creative" started April 17, 2008) and write. I like to do cross stitch and knit. I sew, I don't really enjoy it, but I enjoy the clothes. I like to read the Bible, books, magazines, online newspaper articles, blogs, jokes on candy wrappers, ads on the subway, billboards, backs of food boxes, lists of ingredients and recipes, cleaning directions, sayings on shirts. I post my reviews on "Just a girl, living, reading, watching, and writing", on Shelfari, Library Thing and Goodreads.. I am allergic to practically everything: grass, trees, weeds, animal dander, dust, mold, wheat, apples, nuts, fish and coconut. The fish and coconut are so serious I carry an Epi-pen and wear a Medic-Alert bracelet. And last but not least. I love the Yankees.

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