LIBRARY: Richard Snow at the Hudson Library [1/15]
Join the Hudson Library on January 15th to welcome historian Richard Snow who will discuss his book, Sailing the Graveyard Sea.
*Registration is required for this in-person event. To register, click here.
On December 16, 1842, the U.S. brig-of-war Somers dropped anchor in Brooklyn Harbor at the end of a cruise intended to teach a group of adolescents the rudiments of naval life. But this seemingly harmless exercise ended in catastrophe. Commander Alexander Slidell Mackenzie came ashore saying he had narrowly prevented a mutiny that would have left him and his officers dead. Some of the thwarted mutineers were being held under guard, but three had been hanged. While one of the mutineers might have been a rebel fascinated by pirates, it soon became clear the order that condemned the three men had no legal basis. And worse, that perhaps a mutiny had never really occurred, and that the ship might instead have been seized by a creeping hysteria that ended in the sacrifice of three innocents. Months of accusations and counteraccusations were followed by a highly public court martial which put Mackenzie on trial for his life, and a storm of anti-Navy sentiment drew the attention of the leading writers of the day. Vividly told and filled with tense action based on court martial transcripts, Snow’s masterly account of this all-but-forgotten episode is naval history at its finest.
Richard Snow spent nearly four decades at American Heritage magazine, serving as editor in chief for seventeen years, and has been a consultant on historical motion pictures, among them Glory, and has written for documentaries, including the Burns brothers’ Civil War, and Ric Burns’s award-winning PBS film Coney Island, whose screenplay he wrote. He is the author of multiple books, including, most recently, Disney’s Land.
A “compelling” (The Wall Street Journal) account of the only mutiny in the history of the United States Navy—a little-known but once notorious event that cost three young men their lives—part murder mystery, part courtroom drama, and as propulsive and dramatic as the bestselling novels of Patrick O’Brian.
On December 16, 1842, the US brig-o