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Wolf of the Deep: Raphael Semmes and the Notorious Confederate Raider CSS Alabama
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Wolf of the Deep: Raphael Semmes and the Notorious Confederate Raider CSS Alabama

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  72 ratings  ·  21 reviews
The electrifying story of Raphael Semmes and the CSS Alabama, the Confederate raider that destroyed Union ocean shipping and took more prizes than any other raider in naval history.

In July, 1862, Semmes received orders to take command of a secret new British-built steam warship, the Alabama. At its helm, he would become the most hated and feared man in ports up and down th
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published March 25th 2009 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2007)
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Steve Grant
Sep 04, 2007 Steve Grant rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: civil war buffs
Authoritative & very readable.
Captain Semmes emerges as something of a cypher in this book - a fighting philosopher with a bad marriage. The voyage of the Alabama is amazing, daring and destructive. There are a huge number of lessons and analogues here for our current global war. The CSS Alabama, with its attacks on civilian transportation and commerce, created an impact that was totally disproportionate to its real military value. But because it brought the war into the civilian sphere, and
In a way, this is the biography of a ship as well as a biography of its captain. It is difficult to separate the two, they are so deeply entwined.

Raphael Semmes was a successful commerce raider early in the Civil War, before the Alabama was even launched. That is why he was given the command of this innovative ship. It was a forerunner of later German commerce raiders, designed not so much to stand and fight as to be able to overpower merchant vessels and run away from more heavily armed fightin
As a biography it is incomplete, but no matter. We learn little of Raphael Semmes growing into a man or of his 35 years in the U.S. Navy other than it was in no way exceptional due to his lack of political sensitivity and the clogged pipeline of promotions. But soon after the Civil War began and he was assigned to Captain the CSS Sumter and then the new construction raider CSS Alabama and he came into his own. For over four years he operated with as much independence and success as any navy man ...more
A good biography of Raphael Semmes, Captain of the CSS Alabama & CSS Sumter. The author presents a balanced look at Semmes. I learned a few new things, like Semmes' wife had a daughter from an affair while Semmes was serving during the Mexican War. They reconciled.

There are chapters on how the Alabama was viewed in the North, in the South and in England. The impressions of various visitors to the Alabama are quoted to provide glimpses of the state of the ship & crew. Semmes was largely i
Jim Gallen
"Wolf Of The Deep" tells the tale of the C.S.S. Alabama and its legendary captain, Raphael Semmes. From 1862-1864 the Alabama left a trail of burning wrecks across the oceans of the globe as it sought to apply pressure to break the will of the North to carry on its war against Southern Independence. Built in Birkenhead, England, it was born in the midst of diplomatic chess games between the Confederate agent, James Bullock, uncle of Theodore Roosevelt, and U. S. Ambassador, Charles Francis Adams ...more
Jonathan Gillespie
Though definitely on the dry side, Stephen Fox's portrayal of the naval career of Raphael Semmes--the most successful commerce-raider captain in history--is rich with detail and exhaustively researched. Fox does a wonderful job of exploring the Alabama's influence on the broader world during the Civil War, especially its impact on Anglo-American relations. To say this ship--as the author claims--was the most significant vessel of the war is not an inaccurate statement.

What would I have liked? Mo
I don't often see books on the subject of Civil War Naval History, so I was immediately interested in this title. The USS Alabama was a Confederate ship built in England which went on to wreak havoc with both commercial and naval vessels from the Union states. The captain of the Alabama, Raphael Semmes was seen as a pirate by the Union, but in the Confederate States, he was considered a hero.

This is a biography about Semmes and his exploits on the sea. Much of Semmes' diary and his later books
Oct 05, 2007 George rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Civil War, US Naval history
A very interesting account of the history of the CSS Alabama, and its captai, Raphael Semmes, covering a part of the Civil War largely forgotten today and little covered. Raphael Semmes, a US Naval Academy graduate was not highly regarded within the US Navy, but he became the most successful raider in history, leading his Confederate officers and British crew in a series of attacks against the US merchant fleet from Newfoundland to Singapore over several years before finally being sunk by the US ...more
"At the port of Philadelphia, the value of exports in U.S. vessels fell from $8.8 million in 1862 to $3.4 million in 1864, while those in foreign ships zoomed from $2.7 million to $10.2 million. Other ports recoreded similar declines. 'Our commerce will soon be entirely in the hands of foreigners,' wrote a well-connected Bostonian to Gideon Welles, 'unless our trade is protected by every means within the power of the Government.'" (99-100)

"All classes of Singapore society made their way to New H
I thought this book was just a terrific examination of piece of Civil War History must people don't know about - at least in the north. This is a really complete and rich profile of Raphael Semmes and an examination of what the raider meant in its era - what the world looked like at the time, and why this was such a big blow and big deal to the north. All with great context and perspective. Rich in character and detail. Just a really great read. I stumbled upon this book when I was googling some ...more
I've visited Civil War sites throughout the U.S. most of my life, and I've always heard about how destructive Raphael Semmes and the Alabama were without getting too many of the details.

I recommend reading this book with a globe (or Google Earth) at hand. The author does a great job of keeping the narrative grounded in the Civil War timeline so that you know exactly "where you are" in the war while the Alabama is wreaking havoc in the Caribbean, Africa, Singapore, etc.
There is a statue of Raphael Semmes at the foot of Government Street in Mobile, Alabama. For as long as I have been around it has been there, and Semmes himself an historical figure of notoriety in the Confederate South. Not until reading Wolf of the Deep did I understand what Semmes and the CSS Alabama did during the Civil War. Stephen Fox turned that statue of Semmes into a flesh and blood character.
While West Point and the Army do a thorough job of memorializing army officers who served the Confederacy; Annapolis and the Navy have basically stricken Confederate naval officers from the records. You would think they never existed. That's the Navy for you. So I never knew much about Raphael Semmes. If you're into this sort of thing, this is a great story well told.
I liked this book because I didn't know these types of activities were going on. It was interesting to learn about how, during the Civil War, the south was sinking all of the North's boats.
Josh Bradham
Got a bad rating from me because of Stephen Fox's going off the rails near the end of chapter 9 and just starts going off about slavery instead of talking about well what the book was about
Oct 25, 2007 Mom rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes history
/Extremely readable history-lots of fascinating facts about the War seen from the Confederacy. I was amazed at how far the ship traveled, and the effect that it had on the Union.
i don't know that i was fair to this book, i took a full week to listen to the first three cds, maybe if i'd listened to them closer together i'd of liked it.
Marian Powell
This was a well researched book on the life of Raphael Semmes. Enjoyed
My dad wanted me to read it, but it was actually quite good.
Interesting, I was really surprised! :0)
Apr 29, 2011 Brian is currently reading it
Very detailed and easy to read
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