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Sea of Gray: The Around-the-World Odyssey of the Confederate Raider Shenandoah
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Sea of Gray: The Around-the-World Odyssey of the Confederate Raider Shenandoah

3.70  ·  Rating Details  ·  158 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
The sleek, 222-foot, black auxiliary steamer Sea King left London on October 8, 1864, ostensibly bound for Bombay. The subterfuge was ended off the shores of Madeira, where the ship was outfitted for war. The newly christened CSS Shenandoah then commenced the last, most quixotic sea story of the Civil War: the 58,000-mile, around-the-world cruise of the Confederacy's secon ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published May 29th 2007 by Hill and Wang (first published January 24th 2006)
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(showing 1-30 of 327)
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This non-fiction account of the 1864-1865 voyage of the Confederate States commerce raider CSS Shenandoah tells the tale of her 13-month, 58,000-mile circumnavigation of the globe to carry out her assigned duty of the disruption of the commerce of the North, most particularly the significant income for New England derived from their whaling ships' journeys into the Bering Sea. The Shenandoah crossed the equator 4 times and during their incredible voyage covering points from its Liverpool, Englan ...more
Feb 25, 2014 Eric rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: ed lengel
Dem rebs are good soldiers AND sailors! The depradations of the Shenandoah were insignificant compared to the wider war, but impressive, nonetheless!
Good read, kept me riveted!

There have been many great books written on the confederates commerce raiding and its impact on the civil war. Tom Chaffin adds another excellent book to this growing collection of literature. Tracking the CSS Shenandoah as it was surreptitiously bought, armed at a secluded island and put to see with the intent to raid whaling ships in the artic. The ship was a last ditch effort in the dying days of the confederacy as Richmond was being surrounded to strike back at the Yankees. Overall they were
This is a story I never would have heard of if not for the trusty non-fiction kiosk at Provo Library. This raider is commissioned by the South near the end of the Civil War to mess with American trade in an attempt to hurt the North economically. The guy sails off and starts looting American vessels all over the world months after the war is over because they hadn't received word yet. And then, the captain continues some plunder even after they find out the war is over and that they have been la ...more
Head Mmoid
Jul 11, 2013 Head Mmoid rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sea of Gray is an excellent recounting of the operations of the Confederate commerce raider Shenandoah during the last part of the American Civil War.

This is the history of a commerce raider; a ship whose purpose was to find and capture or destroy the merchant ships of its enemy; and whose intent was to avoid all enemy warships. It is not a tale of rousing derring-do at sea; nor an exciting account of heroic sailors in gray swinging onto the decks of enemy warships in deadly and exciting hand-to
Solid read. Sense of history, timeline, personalities and differing ideologies all outlined and woven together to create a whole picture. Very interesting, rife with facts and anecdotal coloring, fast-paced while not quite being wholly compelling. Finished with a complete idea and story of what had happened as opposed to simply a datestamp and a ship's name, as was all I had before reading.
Feb 03, 2016 Michael rated it really liked it
This was a pretty good book and right to the point. This book is the story of the Shenandoah. With very little sidetracking. I personally felt like it was well written and a great story. It seemed longer than I expected but it wasn't a boring read. If I was a fan of Civil War history I probably would have given it 5 stars. Honestly. I purchased this book because I found it dirt cheap and had a mild interest in it. Now I'm glad I did. Good book and great account of the adventures of the Confedera ...more
K.M. Weiland
I picked this one up thanks to its relatively unique subject matter. Aside from the Monitor and the Merrimac, you don't hear too much about naval warfare during the Civil War, and you certainly don't hear much of anything about the Confederate Navy abroad. So I dived in, thinking I would get a rousing sea yarn and learn a few new things along the way. Unfortunately, the story itself, focused around the CSS Shenandoah, is a tale in which not much happens. The ship's feats are interesting enough, ...more
Dustin Lonero
This book covered a topic I'd always been interested in: the voyage of the CSS SHENNANDOAH from England to the Bering Sea and back Amazingly, the Confederate Raider took the Civil War to the Arctic and at one point even considered a raid on San Francisco. As exciting as the summary sounds, the details of the voyage are far-less intriguing. The book was tedious and reminded me of being on a long stretch of underway while on deployment. You hear of all the annoying in-fighting among wardroom; the ...more
Fredrick Danysh
Without a strong combat navy the Confederates relied on merchant raiders. This work is a study of the two year around the the world cruise of the CSS Shenandoah. Unfortunately many of her prizes were captured after the war was over and the Union called her a pirate ship.
Sea of Gray is a good look into the history of the CSS Shenandoah. Chaffin does a good job of integrating sea going terms and their definitions into the text which makes understanding what he discussing for first time maritime readers easier. The narrative moves along at an quick an steady pace however I never became to involved with the figures involved. After I was finished I knew more about the ship and crew but never felt like I cared about them. Chaffin could have spent more time discussing ...more
J Chad
Aug 09, 2015 J Chad rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story is extremely interesting, but the writing is spotty. The sequencing of the narrative shifts mid-chapter, some of the writing is questionable, and the variation among a narrative history, a sequential history, and partial biographies limits the enjoyability of the book.
Nov 12, 2011 Shani rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
For me this book was an awfully hard slog. I think part of it was simply the total lack of sympathetic characters involved. It was interesting to read about a piece of history I was not aware of--that the Shenandoah kept fighting after the war was declared over--and to read about naval history in a later period than I have done previously. I had pretty much no familiarity with the era of steam-augmented sailing ships and so that was interesting.

But in summary, definitely a hard one to finish, a
Peter Milligan
Feb 07, 2015 Peter Milligan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just love those sailing books....
Nov 17, 2014 Nathan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mike Bleed
A good historical read about a part of the civil war which I was completely unfamiliar with. The descriptions come directly from the participants' memoirs and are very believable and well done. I liked the way the historical citations f these memoirs was mixed with the fictional prose. While some of the longer sea journeys seemed interminable for the sailors, they unfortuantely also translated that way to the reader and I had to skip some sections which were wordy and irrelevant.
S.M. Johnson
Sep 30, 2013 S.M. Johnson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Wow. I assumed that this would be an interesting read but it went further and left me not only unable to put the book down, but also invested in the lives of the players involved. Case in point, I found myself hunting for more information on the subject after I'd finished the title because I was hungry for more. Even the "layman" who doesn't read many history books will likely find this an enjoyable and very readable little adventure. I only wish there was more to read!
Shannon Dishon
Like everyone else who rated 2 stars, I think this book was kind of dull. It would be more appropriate in a history class than in the hands of someone searching for exciting maritime. The purpose isn't to excite but, nonetheless, Chaffin could have used at least some imagery to capture his reader's attention a little bit.
May 08, 2013 Kent rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite reading several books about the Civil War, I had never read much about the naval actions and battles. This story of the CSS Shenandoah is quite unique. I enjoyed learning of it's specific history and also gained some understanding of the commercial shipping and naval activity of the 1860s.
David R.
A workmanlike narrative history. Plus: Good character studies of the key people, excellent background and nautical detail. Minus: Tended to gloss over larger questions (e.g. did the commerce raider strategy work? what efforts were made to hunt Shenandoah down?)
Adam Lausch
This is an excellent read for any Civil War or Navy buff. The only reason I give it three stars is because it becomes a bit monotonous and can be a bit dry at times. It's a great non-fiction account though, and it's extraordinary what these CSA sailors accomplished.
Jul 11, 2012 Bob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not a big history book reader, but this book was fascinating because for me it opened up a whole new perspective of the American Civil War. It's amazing how much damage one small ship could do to an entire industry.
Aaron Bond
Interesting read on a part of the Civil War of which I as not previously aware. Had some slow parts, but much like a 50,000+ mile sea voyage, some passages of idleness seem apt.
Erica Heyl
Dec 06, 2007 Erica Heyl rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who read everything about the Civil War
Nothing spectacular about the writing style. A fairly laborious rendering of a somewhat interesting odyssey. Felt compelled to finish it, but kind of wished I had never started.
Monica Perez
Jan 12, 2009 Monica Perez rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up
This is filled with much detail about uninteresting events. I'm two-thirds the way through it and he still hasn't gotten to the juicy part--if there even is one.
Jul 29, 2008 Doug rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting story about the Shenandoah. Convoluted at times and since it's a historical based book, can get a bit dry at times also. But it's a well told story.
Jun 12, 2008 Eric rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not nearly as interesting or well-written as it could have been. Left me yawning over a potentially great story.
Leif Herrgesell
Apr 23, 2013 Leif Herrgesell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating and informative. A well told history that keeps you engaged.
Steven rated it really liked it
Jan 30, 2016
Morgan Barnes
Morgan Barnes marked it as to-read
Jan 29, 2016
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