Monitor by James Tertius deKay Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

MonitorMonitor; The Story of the Legendary Civil War Ironclad and the Man Whose Invention Changed the Course of History by James Tertius deKay. Ballantine Books, 1997.  247 pages; $11.95 (paperback). Reading level: high school/adult.

Building on the premise that it was not the more famous land battles that determined the outcome of the Civil War but the face-off between two ironclad ships, deKay follows seemingly unconnected historical threads to their fateful intersection at Hampton Roads, Virginia in March of 1862. First, there is the quirky, temperamental Swedish-born inventor, John Ericsson, at odds with the U.S. Navy and the last man its officers would seek out for help. Then there is the model of an ironclad ship Ericsson designed years before the Civil War and stuck in a drawer. And finally, there is the back room politics, pride, “chance” meetings, and half-truths that brought Ericsson’s ship to the attention of President Lincoln’s Ironclad Board at just the right moment.  It all makes for a highly dramatic story that will keep readers on the edges of their seats, knowing that, of course, the Monitor will be built and make it to Hampton Roads in time to stop the South’s Merrimack…but somehow, not entirely sure until the very last page is turned.

Please listen to a shorter version of the story, complete with illustrations….

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