Wednesday, June 10, 2009

"Ironclad Down: USS Merrimack-CSS Virginia from Design to Destruction"

The brief naval career of the CSS Virginia is not one starved of coverage, but the content emphasis and beauty of presentation of Carl D. Park's Ironclad Down: USS Merrimack - CSS Virginia from Design to Destruction (Naval Institute Press, 2007) sets it apart from the crowd.

The book begins with biographical sketches of Confederate navy secretary Stephen R. Mallory, Virginia constructor John L. Porter, and ordnance and instrument engineer John M. Brooke. From there, the author launches into a detailed discussion of the Virginia's technology, design, armament, and construction. With perhaps recognition that the subject's been covered well already, the naval fighting at Hampton Roads and the ship's ultimate destruction is dealt with only briefly.

Park, a master modeler and professional artist, is obviously enamored with the design of the ironclad. His own beautifully rendered drawings (especially those of the framing and construction of the hull, decking, pilot house, and casemate in Chapter 11) are sprinkled throughout the text, and are supported by an abundance of photographs, maps, and other illustrations. The study's high gloss paper also really sets off its first-rate presentation.

While intended for a broad audience, the book is nevertheless a detail oriented treatment that should impress even the most dedicated students. This is a book all Civil War naval enthusiasts will want to own.
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Other CWBA reviews of Naval Institute Press titles:
* Sherman Invades Georgia: Planning the North Georgia Campaign Using a Modern Perspective
* Commanding Lincoln's Navy: Union Naval Leadership During the Civil War

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