An Empire of Sail
- By: Colin Woodard
In the middle decades of the nineteenth century, when the world’s commerce moved by wood and sail, Bath was one of the most important ports on this continent, known around the world for the quality, number, and size of the vessels its people built, owned, and operated. Bath ships dominated many long distance routes, their speed earning the respect of shippers, their captains’ brutality earning the enmity of sailors from Liverpool to San Francisco.
While Bath had scores of shipyards and thousands of ships, one family dominated its golden age. Starting from a small store on Front Street in the early 1820s, the Sewalls built a shipping-and-shipbuilding empire that spanned the globe. On the shores of the Kennebec, they built the largest class of wooden sailing vessels the world has ever seen, four three-thousand-ton behemoths that linked the East and West coasts via Cape Horn. They challenged British hegemony in steel hull construction. They founded banks, bought up railroads, and had one of their number nominated for the vice presidency of the United States. And they left plenty of casualties in their wake: drowned sailors, a slain child, employees, widows, and business associates ruined by their self-serving machinations.
To read more of this review, see the September 2009 issue of Down East magazine.
Portland resident James Hayman crafts a “thriller of a thriller” according to acclaimed author Tess Gerritsen (who knows from blood) in his debut novel The Cutting (Minotaur Books, New York, NY; Hardcover; 336 pages; $24.95). Upon moving from Manhattan to Portland, former NYPD detective Michael McCabe takes up a job with the Portland police — a post he hopes will bring him some much-needed relaxation. But when a teenage girl is found with her heart cut out and a businesswoman is abducted, McCabe finds himself back on the trail of an organized and calculating killer. He also finds himself and the people he loves in increasing danger.
- By: Colin Woodard