Book Review: Big Bad Ironclad! by Nathan Hale

Book Review: Big Bad Ironclad! by Nathan Hale September 21, 2015

Big Bad Ironclad! by Nathan Hale

American patriot and colonial spy Nathan Hale continues regaling his executioners with tales from future history (because he got sucked into a book or something in the first volume–just go with it). Here he gives the story of the first armored naval vessels in the 1860s. The two most famous ones (because they were the first ones) are the Monitor and the Merrimack (renamed the Virginia), built by the United States and the Confederacy respectively. He describes not only their battles and ultimate fates, but also the long and challenging process of first convincing the respective governments to invest in armored sea vessels and then building those boats. The story is exciting and also has plenty of appropriate jokes sprinkled throughout.

Also sprinkled throughout is the story of Will Cushing, a man dismissed from the Naval Academy for playing pranks. When the American Civil War started, the Navy was desperate enough for officers that they took him back. He soon became a colorful, creative, and cunning naval officer. He had a distinguished career with many daring raids and attacks both at sea and on land, earning him the nickname “Lincoln’s Commando.” He was an inspiration for the Navy Seals.

As with other volumes in the series, the back includes a section describing the bits that aren’t historically accurate (surprisingly few) and a bibliography so readers can learn more about the people and the ironclads.

Highly recommended!

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