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Live Yankees

The Sewalls and Their Ships

Live Yankees

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Live Yankees

$30.00

LIVE YANKEES, by W. H. Bunting, explores how for nearly a century members of the Sewall family built and managed a fleet of more than one hundred merchant vessels, mostly stout deepwater square-riggers. No family has been more intimately associated with the history of the city of Bath, then among the most productive shipbuilding communities of any size in the world. Despite a veneer of old-fashioned formalized civility, international shipping in the late 1800s and early 1900s was a highly competitive, low-margin, and often cut-throat business. While the Sewalls’ shrewd responses to market changes make a fascinating story, the surviving correspondence from their captains offers adventure of another kind.

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ISBN: 978-0-88448-315-1 Categories: , , ,
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LIVE YANKEES, by W. H. Bunting, explores how for nearly a century members of the Sewall family built and managed a fleet of more than one hundred merchant vessels, mostly stout deepwater square-riggers. No family has been more intimately associated with the history of the city of Bath, then among the most productive shipbuilding communities of any size in the world. Despite a veneer of old-fashioned formalized civility, international shipping in the late 1800s and early 1900s was a highly competitive, low-margin, and often cut-throat business. While the Sewalls’ shrewd responses to market changes make a fascinating story, the surviving correspondence from their captains offers adventure of another kind. Sewall captains were required to make regular reports to the Sewall office, and this correspondence is a treasure-trove of stories about the voyages of Sewall ships–surly crews, mutinies, plagues, shipwrecks, cannibal isles, destitute widows, and more, along with details of ship performance, weather encountered, trouble in port, and even lawsuits. The Sewalls also invested in railroads and other non-maritime securities and speculations, and also became involved in politics, but it is in the maritime world that they are best remembered. As the owners of the last surviving important fleet of American square-riggers engaged in worldwide trade, it was the Sewalls’ fate to draw the curtain on this economic enterprise. No family had worked more assiduously, more stubbornly, or with more enterprise to delay the arrival of that day.

Reviews:

“…unprecedented in both sweep and forthrightness. It’s a century-long drama set at a time when ships were built, loaded, and manipulated by hand, when the human resource department bore brass-knuckles and clubs, and residents of a small midcoast town were intimately connected to ports and islands on the opposite side of the world….thoroughly enjoyable, a full-body immersion into the late, great age of sail…” -DownEast Magazine September 2009

“Some books, like some ships, are produced to be functional, to carry freight as it were. Others are written with an eye to form, to move with grace and speed to the delight of all concerned. W. H. Bunting’s latest volume, LIVE YANKEES, satisfies almost perfectly on both counts. And this statement is no idle bit of puffery…. While this is not your standard account of a shipping house, LIVE YANKEeS probably comes closer to the reality of daily life aboard merchant vessels and in the Sewall offices in Bath, New York, San Francisco and other points…. In the course of 14 chapters, readers will learn about the port of Bath, the complicated nature of shipping (shipbuilding/ship owning), dry owners, hidden shares and sundryways to cheat the tax man and employees…. This is a lively, honest account that comes very close to bringing things to life.” -Maine Sunday Telegram, June 14, 2009

“Bunting’s inimical fondness for odd facts and fundamental background settings never ceases to lead the reader through hundreds of pages, with gripping sadness when the end of reading is nigh. Rarely is historical data written with such fun and high finesse and yet with utter authenticity. Who would not relish continued reading time after the sentence: ‘In the spring of 1939, the old shipbuilding town of Bath, Maine, lost two unique voices when Dr. Edward E. Briry…and his parrot Charlie were buried in the same grave….'” -Working Waterfront,, September 2009

About the Author:

W. H. Bunting is the author of Portrait of a Port: Boston 1852-1914; Steamers, Schooners, Cutters, and Sloops; A Day’s Work: A Sampler of Historic Maine Photographs, 1860-1920 in two volumes; Sea Struck; and The Camera’s Coast. With Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr., he was co-author of An Eye for the Coast: The Maritime and Monhegan Island Photographs of Eric Hudson. He lives in Whitefield, Maine.

Additional Information

Weight 3.3 lbs
Dimensions 7 x 10.00 x 4.318 in
Pages

512

ISBN

978-0-88448-315-1

Format

Hardcover

Author

W. H. Bunting

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