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As the largest man-made moving object of her time, the construction of the RMS Titanic was a technological feat, yet her sinking comprised one of the most famous disasters of the 20th century. A colossal tragedy, the sinking has been shrouded in mystery ever since and had led to unending speculation …”

— What Really Sank the Titanic

As the largest man-made moving object of her time, the construction of the RMS Titanic was a technological feat, yet her sinking comprised one of the most famous disasters of the 20th century. A colossal tragedy, the sinking has been shrouded in mystery ever since and had led to unending speculation …”

— What Really Sank the Titanic

A fresh look at the demise of the Titanic

The wreck of the Titanic on April 15, 1912 remains one of the most tragic events in recent history and, after 96 years, it continues to captivate the public.

Jennifer Hooper McCarty and Tim Foecke raise intriguing theories in “What Really Sank the Titanic” ($22.95, Kensington Publishing Corp., 2008). Using forensic techniques, McCarty and Foecke propose that faulty rivets that held the frame of the ship together led to the demise of the vessel and so many of her passengers. When researchers recovered 48 rivets from the hulk of the Titanic, tests showed they had high concentrations of slag — a glassy residue that results from improper smelting — that can make rivulets brittle and prone to fracture. The steel rivets that were stronger and more durable were only used for the ship’s central hull where stresses were expected to be the greatest. The rest were iron in the stern and the bow, where damage occurred.

McCarty completed her master’s and doctoral degrees in materials science at John Hopkins University, specializing in the characterization of historic materials. Foecke earned his doctorate in materials science from the University of Minnesota specializing in metals, and has performed failure analysis on the World Trade Center and the USS Arizona in addition to the Titanic. For information, visit

www.whatreallysankthetitanic.com.

Love amid war, mystery and colorful intrigue

Love, espionage, and a little bit of history — Ewan Southby-Tailyour’s novel has all three.

“Skeletons for Sadness” ($17.95, Sheridan House, 2008) tells the story of a young man, Edward Casement, who sails to the Falkland Islands, an archipelago on the South Atlantic Ocean in September 1980. He arrives right at the precipice of the war between the Islanders and Argentina in 1982, and finds himself sailing on a charter for the governor of the islands and meeting Heather Cooper, a newly arrived English nurse. But through the undertones of war, Heather — and Edward — may not be all that they seem.

Southby-Tailyour’s career is as colorful as his novel. He commanded a Royal Marines detachment in the Falkland Islands in the late ’70s and acted as an informant to the British forces during the two-month war. He retired from the Royal Marines in 1992 and now lives in South Devon, England, spending his days sailing a 12-ton gaff cutter, Black Velvet.

An examination ofthe blue water river

A natural habitat, weather forecaster and shaper of history — over the centuries, the Gulf Stream has proved itself to be far more than a river in the ocean.

“The Gulf Stream: Tiny Plankton, Giant Bluefin, and the Amazing Story of the Powerful River in the Atlantic” by Stan Ulanski ($28, The University of North Carolina Press, available in September) examines the river from three different perspectives. The first discusses how the Gulf Stream, during its long journey, transports warm water from the tropics to the north, making a significant impact on the coastal weather and the North Atlantic climate. The second discusses the biodiversity of the river and the myriad types of life forms it supports, such as the prized bluefin tuna. Ulanski closes the book with a look at how the Gulf Stream was essential to the trans-Atlantic slave trade as well as the transportation of spices, sugar and rum during the early colonization of America.

Ulanski is a professor of geology and environmental science at James Madison University in Virginia. An avid fisherman, Ulanski is also the author of “The Science of Fly Fishing.”

Exploring his roots by restoring a sloop

There’s an old adage that life is the journey, not the destination.

In Daniel Robb’s new book “Sloop: Restoring My Family’s Wooden Sailboat – an Adventure in Old-Fashioned Values” ($25, Simon and Schuster, June 2008), he describes how the painstaking work of res-toration led to inner revelations about the meaning of simplicity, the importance of place and ancestral ties.

The journey begins in Massachusetts with Robb restoring his family’s 12-foot Herreshoff sailboat named Daphie, was built in 1939. He recalls his mother sailing it with her brother and sisters during the 1940s and ’50s out of Quissett Harbor, just north of Cape Cod. Robb takes the reader through his relationship with Daphie as he gradually brings her back to her original grandeur.

Robb is a carpenter and a sailor, having worked at sea on schooners, taught sailing, and raced in national competitions. He grew up in Woods Hole, Mass., where he currently resides. He is also the author of “Crossing the Water.”

The big dig: building the Cape Cod canal

The history of the sailing route around Cape Cod is littered with 300 years worth of shattered ships prior to the construction of the Cape Cod Canal between 1909 and 1914.

In “The Cape Cod Canal: Breaking Through the Bared and Bended Arm” by J. North Conway ($19.99, History Press, 2008), the author gives a full account of the treacherous strait and how the canal came to be built due to the persistence of August Belmont Jr., an early investor in the New York subway and director of the National Park Bank. Having languished on the drawing board for 300 years, Conway gives Belmont full credit for turning the project into a much-needed reality. Though the canal suffered its share of problems after construction, it served as a way for sailors to navigate around the dangerous shoals and currents of the Cape. The canal was eventually purchased March 30, 1928 by the U.S. government.

Conway is an English professor at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth and Bristol (Mass.) Community College. He is the author of several historical books, including “New England Shipwrecks” and “New England Women of Substance.” For information, visit www.historypress.net .

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