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
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."
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."
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
"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."
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
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
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
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
--Andrew Rosenheim, The Daily Mail
(for DEAD RUN)
fascinating and honest portrayal"
Times Book Review
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.
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."
"..[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."
"A remarkable prison narrative."
is quite likely to become famous posthumously as a result of this superb
--The Christian Science Monitor
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
for a true-crime story that reaches for broader themes... will find one
in Dead Run."
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."
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.
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.
Rights: Contact Lukeman