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Ghost Ship: The Mysterious True Story of the Mary Celeste and Her Missing Crew

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On December 4th, 1872, a 100-foot brigantine was discovered drifting through the North Atlantic without a soul on board. Not a sign of struggle, not a shred of damage, no ransacked cargo—and not a trace of the captain, his wife and daughter, or the crew. What happened on board the ghost ship Mary Celeste has baffled and tantalized the world for 130 years. In his stunning n On December 4th, 1872, a 100-foot brigantine was discovered drifting through the North Atlantic without a soul on board. Not a sign of struggle, not a shred of damage, no ransacked cargo—and not a trace of the captain, his wife and daughter, or the crew. What happened on board the ghost ship Mary Celeste has baffled and tantalized the world for 130 years. In his stunning new book, award-winning journalist Brian Hicks plumbs the depths of this fabled nautical mystery and finally uncovers the truth. The Mary Celeste was cursed as soon as she was launched on the Bay of Fundy in the spring of 1861. Her first captain died before completing the maiden voyage. In London she accidentally rammed and sank an English brig. Later she was abandoned after a storm drove her ashore at Cape Breton. But somehow the ship was recovered and refitted, and in the autumn of 1872 she fell to the reluctant command of a seasoned mariner named Benjamin Spooner Briggs. It was Briggs who was at the helm when the Mary Celeste sailed into history. In Brian Hicks’s skilled hands, the story of the Mary Celeste becomes the quintessential tale of men lost at sea. Hicks vividly recreates the events leading up to the crew’s disappearance and then unfolds the complicated and bizarre aftermath—the dark suspicions that fell on the officers of the ship that intercepted her; the farcical Admiralty Court salvage hearing in Gibraltar; the wild myths that circulated after Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published a thinly disguised short story sensationalizing the mystery. Everything from a voodoo curse to an alien abduction has been hauled out to explain the fate of the Mary Celeste. But, as Brian Hicks reveals, the truth is actually grounded in the combined tragedies of human error and bad luck. The story of the Mary Celeste acquired yet another twist in 2001, when a team of divers funded by novelist Clive Cussler located the wreck in a coral reef off Haiti. Written with the suspense of a thriller and the vivid accuracy of the best popular history, Ghost Ship tells the unforgettable true story of the most famous and most fascinating maritime mystery of all time. From the Hardcover edition.


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On December 4th, 1872, a 100-foot brigantine was discovered drifting through the North Atlantic without a soul on board. Not a sign of struggle, not a shred of damage, no ransacked cargo—and not a trace of the captain, his wife and daughter, or the crew. What happened on board the ghost ship Mary Celeste has baffled and tantalized the world for 130 years. In his stunning n On December 4th, 1872, a 100-foot brigantine was discovered drifting through the North Atlantic without a soul on board. Not a sign of struggle, not a shred of damage, no ransacked cargo—and not a trace of the captain, his wife and daughter, or the crew. What happened on board the ghost ship Mary Celeste has baffled and tantalized the world for 130 years. In his stunning new book, award-winning journalist Brian Hicks plumbs the depths of this fabled nautical mystery and finally uncovers the truth. The Mary Celeste was cursed as soon as she was launched on the Bay of Fundy in the spring of 1861. Her first captain died before completing the maiden voyage. In London she accidentally rammed and sank an English brig. Later she was abandoned after a storm drove her ashore at Cape Breton. But somehow the ship was recovered and refitted, and in the autumn of 1872 she fell to the reluctant command of a seasoned mariner named Benjamin Spooner Briggs. It was Briggs who was at the helm when the Mary Celeste sailed into history. In Brian Hicks’s skilled hands, the story of the Mary Celeste becomes the quintessential tale of men lost at sea. Hicks vividly recreates the events leading up to the crew’s disappearance and then unfolds the complicated and bizarre aftermath—the dark suspicions that fell on the officers of the ship that intercepted her; the farcical Admiralty Court salvage hearing in Gibraltar; the wild myths that circulated after Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published a thinly disguised short story sensationalizing the mystery. Everything from a voodoo curse to an alien abduction has been hauled out to explain the fate of the Mary Celeste. But, as Brian Hicks reveals, the truth is actually grounded in the combined tragedies of human error and bad luck. The story of the Mary Celeste acquired yet another twist in 2001, when a team of divers funded by novelist Clive Cussler located the wreck in a coral reef off Haiti. Written with the suspense of a thriller and the vivid accuracy of the best popular history, Ghost Ship tells the unforgettable true story of the most famous and most fascinating maritime mystery of all time. From the Hardcover edition.

30 review for Ghost Ship: The Mysterious True Story of the Mary Celeste and Her Missing Crew

  1. 4 out of 5

    Brendan

    The Mary Celeste sailed from New York in 1872 and was found floating derelict about a month later. The ship was in fine condition and the people who found the boat saw no sign of struggle or violence. In fact, there were also signs that the crew likely did not abandon ship, as they left their foul weather gear and pipes (two things sailors in the day apparently never traveled without). Hicks does a great job of weaving the course of the ship’s life and its passengers together toward the tangled m The Mary Celeste sailed from New York in 1872 and was found floating derelict about a month later. The ship was in fine condition and the people who found the boat saw no sign of struggle or violence. In fact, there were also signs that the crew likely did not abandon ship, as they left their foul weather gear and pipes (two things sailors in the day apparently never traveled without). Hicks does a great job of weaving the course of the ship’s life and its passengers together toward the tangled mystery at the heart of the affair. He gets to the mystery at roughly the halfway point and spends the rest of the book explaining the aftermath, the various theories, and his own proposed solution. Some more thoughts: * The two things that make this story particularly terrifying are the exceptionally good condition in which the boat was found and the presence of a two-year-old girl on board (along with the captain’s wife). * Hicks presents a compelling case for his own pet theory which, I must say, explains all the evidence better than anything else (as far as I can see). You can read a bit about it on Wikipedia’s Mary Celeste article if you’re interested. * Hicks oscillates between history and biography with aplomb, and the book stands astride the divide between the two. * I like the discussions of the Bermuda triangle and other strange sea stories. It’s amusing, in the wake of Air France flight 447 that disappeared in the ocean a month ago to learn that part of the uproar over the Mary Celeste stemmed from a feeling that in the modern era (mid-late nineteenth century), man should have dominion over the sea; there should be no unexplainable mysteries. A jaunty tale well told and worth reading.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Abbey

    Well-paced, thoroughly researched, and convincing - it's quite an accomplishment to add substantial new information and solid reasoning to a mystery that has baffled so many for so long. I especially appreciate the author clearing up a lot of misinformation and treating the participants with respect and empathy. Don't spoil it for yourself by reading the Wikipedia version - the final theory is simple and satisfactory and the surrounding stories and human dramas are engrossing, with many side sto Well-paced, thoroughly researched, and convincing - it's quite an accomplishment to add substantial new information and solid reasoning to a mystery that has baffled so many for so long. I especially appreciate the author clearing up a lot of misinformation and treating the participants with respect and empathy. Don't spoil it for yourself by reading the Wikipedia version - the final theory is simple and satisfactory and the surrounding stories and human dramas are engrossing, with many side stories, back stories, and vignettes to enrich the central action. The author also addresses other disappearances, which were interesting but seemed like "soy filler" to make the book a decent length. I was reading the book late into the night and knew that I needed to watch some junk TV before sleeping to clear my mind of the story. I didn't want to find myself in their nightmare, adrift and hopeless in an open boat on the ocean. Highly recommended for an escapist day or two.

  3. 5 out of 5

    L

    I ran across this fascinating legend as a girl and have been curious about it ever since. After all, what could possibly have happened to an entire crew of a boat who simply vanished - clothes, food, pipes, nautical instruments, etc. all left behind? Even a child's indentation in a mattress left. How did they vanish? Hicks researched the hell out of this book and at one point I got overwhelmed with the details; he included transcripts from the trials and personal information about the salvers. He I ran across this fascinating legend as a girl and have been curious about it ever since. After all, what could possibly have happened to an entire crew of a boat who simply vanished - clothes, food, pipes, nautical instruments, etc. all left behind? Even a child's indentation in a mattress left. How did they vanish? Hicks researched the hell out of this book and at one point I got overwhelmed with the details; he included transcripts from the trials and personal information about the salvers. He even captured the personality of the dastardly Flood, the Admiralty Court surveyor who attempted to expose lies and fraud on the part of the Dei Gratia crew, who found the abandoned ship. Very, very well done. I loved the information about the Bermuda Triangle and the first known planes to have vanished inside it. Hicks covered all sorts of crazy nautical tales and folklore. No wonder fisherman are superstitious - weird stuff happens out there. And the ending…Hicks presents a plausible, logical, and fully believable story for the disappearance of the crew. Having read the entire book and sorted through the details, I believe Hicks and that's why I'm so sad. I wanted the haunted tale of the ghost ship to stay a mystery; but more of me wanted to know what happened. Simply put, I had to know. I suppose I can take comfort in the fact that Hicks' theory is just a theory and we'll never know for certain. But now I've gone and spoiled my mystery. Was it worth it? Yep.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Luthien

    While Hicks is admittedly not a historian by trade, his style is both engaging and readable, and his meticulous research shines through despite his lack of a degree. He makes a compelling case for what ultimately happened to the unfortunate cast of the Mary Celeste. He also keeps the book interesting and relevant long after the events of the incident in question. While the book reads almost like a mystery novel, it never strays from documented fact and remains primarily a work of scholarship wit While Hicks is admittedly not a historian by trade, his style is both engaging and readable, and his meticulous research shines through despite his lack of a degree. He makes a compelling case for what ultimately happened to the unfortunate cast of the Mary Celeste. He also keeps the book interesting and relevant long after the events of the incident in question. While the book reads almost like a mystery novel, it never strays from documented fact and remains primarily a work of scholarship with a solid thesis. The whole case can leave a reader feeling tormented by the mystery. It is a truly eerie tale, but in the end, Hicks provides an appropriately reasonable and mundane explanation for the disappearance. No one will ever truly be able to prove or disprove the truth behind the sad fates of the Mary Celeste’s vanished crew, but the theory advocated by Brian Hicks is not only plausible, even likely; it, most importantly, respects the memories of the crew.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rage

    I watched a TV special on ghost ships that terrified me, some time before I turned 12, although I was quite thoroughly landlocked. with this book, you get the satisfaction of the mystery and mystical (including a brief treatment of the Bermuda triangle), while also reaching the author's own, fairly convincing, explanation of what occurred. (I had given up on ever knowing, so it was a good twist.) there's quite a bit about the captain of the ship and his family's many seafaring tragedies, followe I watched a TV special on ghost ships that terrified me, some time before I turned 12, although I was quite thoroughly landlocked. with this book, you get the satisfaction of the mystery and mystical (including a brief treatment of the Bermuda triangle), while also reaching the author's own, fairly convincing, explanation of what occurred. (I had given up on ever knowing, so it was a good twist.) there's quite a bit about the captain of the ship and his family's many seafaring tragedies, followed by a long section covering the trial to determine the salver's award. it was interesting to read but not what made the book interesting to me. from my modern perspective, it's so weird and uncomfortable when something can't be explained.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    There was a good story somewhere in there, but the author's presentation of it left much to be desired IMO. There was a good story somewhere in there, but the author's presentation of it left much to be desired IMO.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Robert Melnyk

    Very well written and informative book about a very interesting subject. I had read just a bit about this ship in another book I read a while ago, so when I saw this, I figured I would give it a try. It did not disappoint. Although the title says "True Story", you do not really get a definitive answer as to exactly what happened. I don't think there ever will be a definitive answer. But you do get a lot of history about the ship and the people involved, as well as a number of theories as to what Very well written and informative book about a very interesting subject. I had read just a bit about this ship in another book I read a while ago, so when I saw this, I figured I would give it a try. It did not disappoint. Although the title says "True Story", you do not really get a definitive answer as to exactly what happened. I don't think there ever will be a definitive answer. But you do get a lot of history about the ship and the people involved, as well as a number of theories as to what happened. If you are into this type of seafaring adventure, this is a good read.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This book has three parts - the first deals mostly with origins. It covers the building of the Amazon, later to be changed to Mary Celeste and the life and family of Captain Briggs. Part two deals with the salvage trial. The last part breaks down different theories of what may have happened to the crew and the author gives his most likely scenario based on the research. The Bermuda Triangle is also briefly touched upon. Included is an epilogue detailing the search for the sunken remains.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Pamela Mikita

    Very interesting story about the Mary Celeste that was found off of Gibraltar with her crew and captain missing. I did skip a little of all the nutcase stories that were circulating over the years. I felt very satisfied with the authors theory. Great read!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kirstin Steele

    nice job weaving the stories and history. satisfying conclusion. well written and appreciate the notes and bibliography.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    I was amazed at the author's ability to create a story around a historical event with limited facts. The theories put forward over the years about the Mary Celeste are fascinating. A few chapters felt like they were merely filler (e.g. alien abductions) but all in all a good read. I thought the author's own theory regarding what happened to the ship's crew made a lot of sense. I was amazed at the author's ability to create a story around a historical event with limited facts. The theories put forward over the years about the Mary Celeste are fascinating. A few chapters felt like they were merely filler (e.g. alien abductions) but all in all a good read. I thought the author's own theory regarding what happened to the ship's crew made a lot of sense.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kathi Kresol

    I have been fascinated with this story since I was a little girl. I spent my early years on the east coast because my father was in the Navy. I remember (although I must have been 4 or 5 years old) standing on the beach in North Carolina and watching the ships on the ocean. I read about this book in a book about unsolved mysteries. And like everyone else, I thought I had heard the "real" story of the Mary Celeste. But Brian Hicks has painstakingly researched Captain Benjamin Briggs' life and his I have been fascinated with this story since I was a little girl. I spent my early years on the east coast because my father was in the Navy. I remember (although I must have been 4 or 5 years old) standing on the beach in North Carolina and watching the ships on the ocean. I read about this book in a book about unsolved mysteries. And like everyone else, I thought I had heard the "real" story of the Mary Celeste. But Brian Hicks has painstakingly researched Captain Benjamin Briggs' life and his crew. This story delves into the various theories that have arisen over the years and introduces what just may be the answer to this mystery. The book is well written and highlights the Brigg's family who lost so much.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ghost of the Library

    Flying Dutchman...Mary Celeste...the names bring to mind tales of horror, mistery, murder and sadness...but how much do we really know about what happened, and how much is lore and legend, distorted as the years go by, many times a mix of facts and fiction created by the pen of talented writers? On December 4th, 1872, a 100-foot brigantine was discovered drifting through the North Atlantic without a soul on board. The were no signs of struggle, hardly any damage, and no ransacked cargo...what on Flying Dutchman...Mary Celeste...the names bring to mind tales of horror, mistery, murder and sadness...but how much do we really know about what happened, and how much is lore and legend, distorted as the years go by, many times a mix of facts and fiction created by the pen of talented writers? On December 4th, 1872, a 100-foot brigantine was discovered drifting through the North Atlantic without a soul on board. The were no signs of struggle, hardly any damage, and no ransacked cargo...what on earth had happened to the captain, his family and the crew of the Mary Celeste? That is the question that has baffled and tantalized the world for over 100 years and that in this very interesting and engaging book by Mr. Hicks is answered...perhaps for the time ever correctly? The author does a great job not only portraying the events leading up to the crew’s disappearance, but also telling the origins of the Mary Celeste, where she was built, her voyages when she was called Amazon and how she, by sea standards anyways, was "cursed" right from the beginning. He introduces us to its final captain, a good men and a good sailor, from a family not baffled by luck when it came to the sea, but that always did its best and carried on no matter what. Then on December 4th the crew of the Deo Gratia stumbles her, "moving in a weird manner" and some men are sent aboard to investigate...the rest is history, or is it? What the general public doesn't know and is very engagingly explained is the complicated and frankly bizarre aftermath of the salvage of the Mary Celeste —the suspicions that fell on the officers of the ship that intercepted her; the court salvage hearing in Gibraltar that turns into a circus of lets find someone to blame; the wild myths that circulated after Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published a thinly disguised short story that is a risk saying the main "culprit" for the legends that circulate to these days and that, upon publishing, was taken as gospel truth by many. Everything, and i do mean everything, has been thrown out there in order to explain the fate of the Mary Celeste - voodoo, alien abduction, sea monsters, you name it! But, as Brian Hicks proposes, the truth is more likely a sad mix of human error and just plain bad luck. Bad Luck followed the ship everywhere and after the disappearance of crew and captain she was avoided like the plague and, whenever actually set to sail, gave no profit, just kept sucking money out of every owners pockets, until the day she was purposefully sunk to claim insurance money some will say, but also i think to rid the owner of its "evil effects". This is a surprisingly easy read and, to me anyways, was a treasure trove of information - its is very well researched and the pace of the narrative is "smooth sailing" even if, in the chapters pertaining the hearing anyways, the smooth sailing can feel a bit slow, given the amount of detail the author provides. still all in all, if for no other reason than to show you what us what is known fact and what is myth..the rest, well only the sea knows what happened....

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    A reliable narration of one of the world's more endearing enigmas, ending with an explanation that's haunting and so much sadder than the most salacious stories. A reliable narration of one of the world's more endearing enigmas, ending with an explanation that's haunting and so much sadder than the most salacious stories.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Casey

    A good solid 4 stars for (1) a gripping, edge-of-the seat story in the first third, (2) a rather long, slow middle, and (3) a nice satisfying ending with a possible explanation that works. I really enjoyed getting to know the family at the beginning, which made the story so very poignant. As with John and Abigail Adams, this family also wrote a lot of letters, which made them come alive. When I get to know people from long ago, from their intimate letters, it always amazes me how, despite a separ A good solid 4 stars for (1) a gripping, edge-of-the seat story in the first third, (2) a rather long, slow middle, and (3) a nice satisfying ending with a possible explanation that works. I really enjoyed getting to know the family at the beginning, which made the story so very poignant. As with John and Abigail Adams, this family also wrote a lot of letters, which made them come alive. When I get to know people from long ago, from their intimate letters, it always amazes me how, despite a separation of time and culture, we are so much alike. A very engaging read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mark Nenadov

    I came around to reading this book when my brilliant wife selected it for the book she chose for me to read in March. What a fantastic book! The book centers around the perplexing mystery of the Mary Celeste, a ship of Nova Scotian origin. It was found abandoned around the Azores Islands, which are on the way to Portugal. The ship showed no signs of struggle and little to suggest that the weather conditions were heavy enough to drive an experienced captain to lead his wife, young daughter, and cr I came around to reading this book when my brilliant wife selected it for the book she chose for me to read in March. What a fantastic book! The book centers around the perplexing mystery of the Mary Celeste, a ship of Nova Scotian origin. It was found abandoned around the Azores Islands, which are on the way to Portugal. The ship showed no signs of struggle and little to suggest that the weather conditions were heavy enough to drive an experienced captain to lead his wife, young daughter, and crew to risk their lives on a lifeboat. The author does a great job of building suspense and yet avoiding sensationalism. He skilfully navigates background material, historical data, press reports, and weighs prevailing theories. In general, he deals with these theories fairly, showing their plausibility, but also debunking them, or showing that they have already been debunked. Eventually, at the end, and only after giving much space to some far-fetched theories, the author presents his theory. It's quite a simple and yet plausible explanation and certainly satisfied me. I found myself launched back into my early days of reading National Geographic's World Magazine, which, for a young audience, once in a while discussed things such as lost treasure, ships, and mysteries. I found myself drawn into the life of the people involved. I felt a lot of sympathy for the Briggs family. Their story is an extremely sad story. And what was public charade and cause for far-fetched tales for some, was a serious, string of sea-born tragedies for others. I did not find any "dry" spots in this book. It is rather exciting, and even in the rather belabored section covering the salvage trial, the antics of the crown attorney keeps the narrative on its toes. Another nice touch of this book is the way it connects the story to a broader story. You will find about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's fictional tale based on the story of the Mary Celeste, which was often taken as a true account. There is also a discussion about how this story connects into a broader tradition of lore that includes the Bermuda Triangle. And the short anecdote about the Mary Celeste's final demise off the shore of Haiti is short, but fascinating. I heartily recommend this book to anyone who wants a delightful read about a true mystery.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Borders

    This is the story of a merchant ship whose crew disappeared in the 1870s. The captain's wife and young child were also onboard. The ship was found in the middle of the ocean with not a soul to be found, yet everything seemed normal. The crew had even left their pipes and foul weather gear behind. The mystery was infamous in the US For many decades to follow, with many theories expounded upon. This book recounts the history of the boat, as well as that of its captain, Benjamin Spooner Briggs. The This is the story of a merchant ship whose crew disappeared in the 1870s. The captain's wife and young child were also onboard. The ship was found in the middle of the ocean with not a soul to be found, yet everything seemed normal. The crew had even left their pipes and foul weather gear behind. The mystery was infamous in the US For many decades to follow, with many theories expounded upon. This book recounts the history of the boat, as well as that of its captain, Benjamin Spooner Briggs. The author details all the theories and hoaxes throughout the years as to what happened, but nothing quite fit. There were always little details that just didn't fit. At the very end of the book, the author throws out his own theory. It is a scenario that had apparently never been considered, but given all the information contained in the book, it is really the only one that makes sense. This is very readable as far as non fiction goes. There was a chapter towards the end that went in depth as far as all the later theories, such as alien abduction. Those were a little far fetched for me and I started to lose interest. I felt bad for the crew of the rescue ship, who literally risked their lives to sail the ship, Mary Celeste, into port, having to reduce their own crew and work day and night for many days in order to steer the abandoned ship to Gilbraltar. In the end, it couldn't have been worth all their hard effort.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Pamela Mclaren

    Brian Hicks has created a very readable book that gives the facts on the ship the Mary Celeste that in 1872 was found sailing without its crew. It is not the only such ghost ship that occurred but for some reason the Celeste became one of the most famous. Perhaps because it caught the attention of the public - because the missing crew included the captain, his wife and their infant daughter - which drove various fraudsters to claim that they either were or knew someone who had sailed on the ill Brian Hicks has created a very readable book that gives the facts on the ship the Mary Celeste that in 1872 was found sailing without its crew. It is not the only such ghost ship that occurred but for some reason the Celeste became one of the most famous. Perhaps because it caught the attention of the public - because the missing crew included the captain, his wife and their infant daughter - which drove various fraudsters to claim that they either were or knew someone who had sailed on the ill fated ship. And there is too that the ship was taken into port where it languished for months before being put out to sea once again -- and by then its reputation was such that its fate was almost assured. There is truly a romance to ships and sailing and there is always a fascination about the how and why a ship like the Celeste, the Edmund Fitzgerald and the Titanic becomes a part of folklore. For the Celeste the mystery that surrounds it will surely keep its name in our collective mind.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    I admit I'm partial to maritime history... but this a very interesting little book. I had heard about the Mary Celeste before but never knew the entire story. If ever there was a truly "cursed" ship... this was it. The author covers the history of the boat, the characters involved and the aftermath with well researched information. And even offers a pretty good theory of what he believes could have been the cause of the disappearances during that infamous and fateful journey. This will always re I admit I'm partial to maritime history... but this a very interesting little book. I had heard about the Mary Celeste before but never knew the entire story. If ever there was a truly "cursed" ship... this was it. The author covers the history of the boat, the characters involved and the aftermath with well researched information. And even offers a pretty good theory of what he believes could have been the cause of the disappearances during that infamous and fateful journey. This will always remain one of the most interesting and compelling(if not the most) maritime event. Like I said... I'm a little partial... but I really enjoyed this book. Read it in 3 days!! I couldn't put it down. As sailors would say, a great seafaring yarn.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    This is a fabulous work of non-fiction. With the exception of only a brief section in the middle, I was riveted and couldn't put it down. Hicks unspools the Mary Celeste's story with such care and detail that it was all the more heartbreaking to reach the end and read the most likely theory of what happened to her passengers and crew. If you like when history and mystery combine, you'll love this book. This is a fabulous work of non-fiction. With the exception of only a brief section in the middle, I was riveted and couldn't put it down. Hicks unspools the Mary Celeste's story with such care and detail that it was all the more heartbreaking to reach the end and read the most likely theory of what happened to her passengers and crew. If you like when history and mystery combine, you'll love this book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Frank

    On December 4, 1872, the Mary Celeste was found floating erratically in the North Atlantic by the crew of the Dei Gratia. The sailors from the Dei Gratia rowed over to the erratic ship in a small lifeboat where they found "an empty deck, a tattered sail hanging from the foremast, the ship's wheel spinning untended...and the Mary Celeste was sailing without a soul on board." The ship was in good shape and there appeared to be no reason why it was abandoned. The mystery of what happened to the Mar On December 4, 1872, the Mary Celeste was found floating erratically in the North Atlantic by the crew of the Dei Gratia. The sailors from the Dei Gratia rowed over to the erratic ship in a small lifeboat where they found "an empty deck, a tattered sail hanging from the foremast, the ship's wheel spinning untended...and the Mary Celeste was sailing without a soul on board." The ship was in good shape and there appeared to be no reason why it was abandoned. The mystery of what happened to the Mary Celeste became one of the most mysterious unsolved mysteries of the past century and is still discussed today. This was a very fascinating and intriguing telling of the tragedy of the ship as well as the Captain and crew of the vessel. Hicks did a very good job of fleshing out the story including giving the backstory of the Briggs family. The Captain of the "ghost ship" was Benjamin Briggs who came from a family of seagoing men who nearly all met tragic ends at sea. Briggs had his wife and young daughter also aboard the Mary Celeste which made the story even more tragic. When the ship was found adrift, is was sailed to Gibraltar by some of the crew of the Dei Gratia for a potential salvage reward. This however resulted in a long drawn out trial where many theories and accusations were thrown about as to what happened to the ship and its crew. One of the magistrates in Gibraltar thought there was wrongdoing when a sword was found on board that may have had blood on it. Charges of potential fraud and even possible murder surfaced. Eventually, the ship was released and its cargo of alcohol delivered to its destination but questions lingered about the ship. Later many theories and stories were spread about the fate of the ship including one published by Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes. These stories included potential mutiny, pirates, weather related causes including water spouts, and even sea monsters such as giant squid. Even later in the 20th century UFOs and Atlantis were considered as possible means of the crews' disappearance. In the end, Hicks comes up with a very reasonable explanation for what happened. Overall, I found this to be very compelling reading. I had heard of the Mary Celeste for many years and this book really fleshes out the circumstances around the tragedy and includes some good background on the time period and how this became one of the most discussed mysteries of the past.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tracy

    I liked the book. Can I promise you'll love it. Well, that probably depends on you and your interest. It was an interesting read about a topic I am not even sure I had heard of this story or maybe only vaguely. This is the story of a ship that was found abandoned in the 1800's with no obvious explanation as to why the crew had left or what had happened to them. To offer a maybe obvious slight spoiler, we still don't know 100% what really happened to the crew. However, the author does a good job I liked the book. Can I promise you'll love it. Well, that probably depends on you and your interest. It was an interesting read about a topic I am not even sure I had heard of this story or maybe only vaguely. This is the story of a ship that was found abandoned in the 1800's with no obvious explanation as to why the crew had left or what had happened to them. To offer a maybe obvious slight spoiler, we still don't know 100% what really happened to the crew. However, the author does a good job at telling you a rather detailed backstory for the people involved and the history of the ship before and after its strange occurrence with the crew vanishing. At the very end, the author presents his assessment of what probably happened. It seems the most plausible and makes sense (at least to someone who's read no other sources on the matter). The author does a good job at debunking several of the myths grown up around this story for generations after the mysterious discovery of the empty ship. It is a good book to learn a bit of history of the late 1800s and early 1900s but especially with respect to the ending of the age of sail. To be honest, there were times when I was thinking maybe I didn't want to read a book about this story with this much detail, and I just wanted to know what happened to the crew. But the history is written in a mostly readable way. Getting more backstory allows the people involved to become much more real and their tragedy is more touching in that regard. If you really can't handle wading though all the detail you could probably skip to the last couple chapters at whatever point you feel you've got enough front story to know what the basic facts are. But there are interesting tidbits along the way. If this sounds like an interesting read to you, then I think you'd like it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Karlie Nyte

    The Mary Celeste. If you know anything about maritime history, this name will cause you to prick up your ears, to see what may be coming next. A new theory about what happened to this ship and her crew seems to be something that occurred numerous times over the course of the 20th century. Pirates, bad weather, aliens, mutiny, a curse, or just sheer bad luck? These all have been conjectured over the years, but nobody has ever been able to determine exactly what occurred all those years ago. Even The Mary Celeste. If you know anything about maritime history, this name will cause you to prick up your ears, to see what may be coming next. A new theory about what happened to this ship and her crew seems to be something that occurred numerous times over the course of the 20th century. Pirates, bad weather, aliens, mutiny, a curse, or just sheer bad luck? These all have been conjectured over the years, but nobody has ever been able to determine exactly what occurred all those years ago. Even today, it is still one of the biggest maritime mysteries to grace the newspapers. And also even today, it is somewhat unclear exactly what the events were leading up to the final days of the crew and the ship. This novel attempts to clarify that. The author takes care to clarify what sources are used and when, so that while you are reading his book, you are aware of who said it, and in what context, and if it was complete bunk or not. Many of the people concerned directly with the ship could have been lying, and many more most definitely seemed to be lying, or at the very least, stretching what they saw into something more sinister. The disappearance of the crew of the Mary Celeste most likely will never be solved, not unless we develop a time travel device to journey back to watch from a safe distance what occurred to them. And even then, people might not want to give up the love of a good mystery.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    With such a lasting mystery at its core, I questioned whether there was enough known about this incident to keep a reader engaged for 300+ pages. I shouldn’t have worried. Well researched and written, the book explores the history of the ship, the incident itself, and the effect of the subsequent public spectacle on the individuals and families involved. I found the last of these most compelling and was surprised by the parallels between the proliferation and consumption of misinformation then a With such a lasting mystery at its core, I questioned whether there was enough known about this incident to keep a reader engaged for 300+ pages. I shouldn’t have worried. Well researched and written, the book explores the history of the ship, the incident itself, and the effect of the subsequent public spectacle on the individuals and families involved. I found the last of these most compelling and was surprised by the parallels between the proliferation and consumption of misinformation then and now. The author also debunks various theories about what happened while offering one of his own. It’s a chilling tale, in more ways than one.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mad Leon

    Lately I've been interested in unsolved historical mysteries, and it seems there aren't many, so I enjoyed reading the incident about the disappearance of the crew of the Mary Celeste. The author is a bit dry at times and interjects other mysterious maritime incidents involving the Bermuda Triangle, probably just to extend the length of the book. There is really very little evidence about what happened to the crew of the Mary Celeste but the author presents a plausible explanation for why they m Lately I've been interested in unsolved historical mysteries, and it seems there aren't many, so I enjoyed reading the incident about the disappearance of the crew of the Mary Celeste. The author is a bit dry at times and interjects other mysterious maritime incidents involving the Bermuda Triangle, probably just to extend the length of the book. There is really very little evidence about what happened to the crew of the Mary Celeste but the author presents a plausible explanation for why they may have abandoned a seaworthy vessel only to perish at sea.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Randall

    Mary Celeste I read this book for our book club. For me it is hard to read without a story to follow and characters that draw me in. This book did draw me in. In to the strength of character of the crew and the Briggs family. In to the myterious disappearance of all 10 people on board. In to the troubled life of the ship Mary Celeste. I liked how each chapter filled in answers to questions and yet we can never know what truly happened.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Wendell

    Very detailed, almost to the point of boredom in parts, but Hicks' is nothing if not excruciatingly precise. He covers every element of the story (a mystery over 140 years old) from every possible perspective and his research appears to be impeccable--much of it from original sources. I always enjoy a good seafaring tale (fact or fiction) and this is as well-written and thorough as any I've read. Very detailed, almost to the point of boredom in parts, but Hicks' is nothing if not excruciatingly precise. He covers every element of the story (a mystery over 140 years old) from every possible perspective and his research appears to be impeccable--much of it from original sources. I always enjoy a good seafaring tale (fact or fiction) and this is as well-written and thorough as any I've read.

  28. 5 out of 5

    JennanneJ

    A rather dry read, with lots of unnecessary detail. I suppose a more serious historian would appreciate, but as a casual reader, I found myself skimming most of the book. The author seemed to have fun shooting down various explanations of what may have happened to the crew of the Mary Celeste and then proposing his own theory. Overall an interesting read, tho much of the extraneous information could have been left out - certain bios and even a chapter (unrelated?!) on the Bermuda Triangle.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Brian Weisz

    The story of the Mary Celeste, a 19th century sailing ship found floating in the middle of the Atlantic with no crew. Goes into all the drama of discovering the fate of the crew, Arthur Conan Doyle and Clive Cussler's involvement, all the hoax theories drummed up over the years, and ends with a plausible theory from the author. The story of the Mary Celeste, a 19th century sailing ship found floating in the middle of the Atlantic with no crew. Goes into all the drama of discovering the fate of the crew, Arthur Conan Doyle and Clive Cussler's involvement, all the hoax theories drummed up over the years, and ends with a plausible theory from the author.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Dean Aceto

    Great book about a historic mystery. The author does a good job of telling the story though at times I felt it was a little spread out. The book probably could have been 40 pages lighter. Great read for some fresh insight to an old mystery.

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