The Wreck of the Hornet and the Harrowing 4,300 Mile Voyage of its Survivors
by Joe Jackson

:  Simon & Schuster/The Free Press

Pub Date:  Spring 2003

Format:  Hardcover

Brief Description
In the vein of
In the Heart of the Sea, this tells the story of one of the 3 greatest shipwrecks in history, where the survivors barely lived for 43 days on ten days’ rations, drifting 4,000 miles in a single lifeboat as they all slowly weakened and became delirious or mad
(see below for Full Description)

"A gripping tale of the high seas so well written you feel as if you're actually experiencing the terrible ordeal. A true stunner you'll never forget."
--Clive Cussler

"Page by page oblivion approaches, and common men choose between treachery and transcendence. Jackson's tale of desperation is as thorough as it is compelling".
--Glenn S. Gordinier, Ph.D., Mystic Seaport



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"A FURNACE AFLOAT is so skillfully written I felt as if I were adrift with the ill-fated sailors of the Hornet as they faced starvation, madness, sharks, and the biggest threat of all -- each other -- in their epic struggle to survive. Much like The Perfect Storm, this is a compelling account of rugged men fighting to endure in a life-and-death battle with a most unforgiving opponent -- the open sea. Read it and you won't be disappointed!"
--Pete Earley
Author of
The Hot House: Life Inside Leavenworth Prison

"An extraordinary story, beautifully told. Jackson wears his research lightly but he has an unerring eye for the telling phrase and the significant detail, while his mastery of the historical context and the undercurrents of class and race bubbling below the surface, illuminates a narrative of ever-mounting drama and tension."
--Neil Hanson
author of The Custom of the Sea

"Joe Jackson has written a spellbinding castaway saga that vividly recaptures the 1866 disaster of an American clipper ship swallowed up by a fire at sea. A Furnace Afloat--in the nautical tradition of Herman Melville, Jack London, and Herman Wouk--is a hair-raising narrative that is impossible to put down. A true triumph in historical recreation."
--Douglas Brinkley
Director, The Eisenhower Center for American Studies, and Professor of History, University of New Orleans

"A wrenching story of man against man as well as of man against sea. Jackson tells of the near-mystical effects of castaways' suffering at nature's hands, but he also gives chillingly clinical descriptions of that suffering's effects on the body, the mind, and human interaction. This is a worthy meditation on the limits of physical and mental endurance, set against the backdrop of the world's largest and cruelest of oceans." 
--Buckner F. Melton, Jr., Distinguished Writer-in-Residence, Mercer University, and author of A HANGING OFFENSE: THE STRANGE AFFAIR OF THE WARSHIP SOMERS 

Review Highlights:

"Another in a recent string of stories of things gone awry at sea--though with a smart spin that makes it better than most of the lot.....Good stuff for those who like their disaster-at-sea tales flavored with ideas."

from the UK:

"Jackson has done an impressive job of fleshing out the bones of a story that has been drawn almost entirely from diary entries. Being able to transform a month of monotony into a book that continually holds your interest is no mean feat, and A Furnace Afloat is an intriguing testament to both the author's skill and the human spirit." 
--Jo Sargent, Geographical

"The clinical detail may be too much for some, but it all serves Jackson's moral -- that in so-called civilisation we are never far from danger. . . . almost thermonuclear in its devastation." 
--Frank McLynn, The New Statesman

 "In a gripping story of disaster and triumph, pain and renewal, prayer and perfidy, the most chilling aspect is that in the most awful of circumstances, man clings to the differences of life as he faces the ultimate democracy of death." 
--Hugh MacDonald, Glasgow Herald

"A Furnace Afloat is richly written and its author seems to have something interesting to say on virtually every topic raised by his harrowing story. . . . His book manages to combine the high authority of an encyclopedic work of history with the page-turning excitement of an adventure story." 
--Andrew Rosenheim, The Daily Mail


(for DEAD RUN)
"[A] fascinating and honest portrayal"
New York Times Book Review

"True crime veteran Jackson superbly retells the tale, drawing on impressive primary sources….These sources allow Jackson to quote dialogue, sketch characters’ thoughts and avoid the speculation that diminishes so many historical narratives….Jackson weaves in astute tidbits of history, philosophy and science, explaining why, for example, cannibalism is not a physiologically effective survival tactic. Vividly and sympathetically written, this is a tragic yet triumphant book about the limits of humanity and human endurance.
Forecasts: Jackson’s credentials—he is a five-time Pultizer nominee and a former investigative reporter—and strong reviews could draw in readers who enjoyed Nathaniel Philbrick’s In the Heart of the Sea."
--Publishers Weekly, July 14, 2003

"Burke and Jackson offer a gripping inside look at the life usually hidden behind prison walls and a frightening indictment of the criminal justice system."
--Publishers Weekly

"..[they] produce a dark epic chronicling the only multiple escape from death row, and the redemption of a man condemned for a murder likely not his own doing, in that rare volume that is at once a taut, gripping true-crime tide and a disturbing indictment of the nether regions of criminal justice."
--Kirkus Reviews

"A remarkable prison narrative."
Philadelphia Inquirer

"Dennis Stockton is quite likely to become famous posthumously as a result of this superb book."
--The Christian Science Monitor

"There's more than enough intrigue, action, and disturbing comedy to fill several thrillers, but Dead Run is a true story of a man who refused to sit still and wait for the hour of his death."

"Dead Run, unlike other books by inmates, employees or outsiders, provides an authentic, verified, objective view of the prison world."
--The Angolite: The Prison News Magazine

"Readers looking for a true-crime story that reaches for broader themes... will find one in Dead Run."
--Orlando Sentinel

"Uplifting and depressing in equal measures I was moved by this book to once again protest against the Death Penalty. If there is to be any sense in Stockton's death maybe this is it."
Crime Time

Full Description
          Over the years a handful of shipwrecks have become symbols of something greater. In the Age of Sail, three were recounted again and again: Captain Bligh and his Bounty’s 1789 voyage (which spawned Mutiny on the Bounty); the whaleship Essex of 1820 (which spawned Moby Dick); and the 1866 survivors of the clipper ship Hornet, who barely lived for 43 days on ten days’ rations and shoe leather, who drifted 4,000 miles in a single lifeboat as they all slowly weakened and became delirious or mad. It was a journey that would be memorialized for a magazine by an unknown Mark Twain, and mark the debut of his literary career. But the voyage, disaster and survival has never, amazingly, been given the full length book treatment it deserves. Until now.
In the vein of the bestseller In the Heart of the Sea comes A FURNACE AFLOAT, a miraculous story of shipwreck, survival, sharks, whirlpools, cannibalism, mutiny, hallucinations, near-rescues, and 43 days of man against nature. It is one of the rare, great historical survival stories glossed over in the recent flood of bestsellers. And yet it also transcends its genre, as a study of the sociology of 1866 America, as reflected in the crew and survivors of the Hornet: a diverse mix of immigrants struggling to overcome class issues, to define their own America, and to recover from the recent Civil War.

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