For millennia, humans well-knew that there was a force far more powerful than they upon the Earth, and that was Nature itself. They could only dream of overcoming its power, or try to believe in the myths and fables of others who supposedly had done so.
Then, at the dawn of the 19th century, along came a brilliant, creative, controversial American by the name of Robert Fulton. In the late summer of 1807, he ran his experimental steamboat” from New York City to Albany, not once, but repeatedly. With these continuing commercial trips, Fulton showed that it was possible to alter artificially both a person’s location and the amount of time it took to change it. In so doing, he also broke through an enormous psychological barrier that had existed in people’s minds; it was, in fact, possible to overcome Nature to practical effect.
But running these steamboats on rivers, lakes and bays was one thing. Taking such a vessel on a voyage across the ocean was a different proposition altogether. Experienced mariners didn't think it could be done. These early steamboats were just too flimsy and unwieldy to withstand the dangers of the deep.
Yet there was at least one man who believed otherwise. His name was Captain Moses Rogers. He set out to design a steam vessel that was capable of overcoming the vicissitudes of the sea. This craft would be not a steamboat, but a steamship, the first of its kind.
Finding a crew for such a new-fangled contraption proved to be exceedingly difficult. Marinersconditioned as they were to knowing the ropes” of a sailing shiplooked upon this new vessel, and its unnatural means of propulsion, with the greatest suspicion. To them, it was not a "Steam Ship"instead, it was a "Steam Coffin."
"Steam Coffin is a substantial work, a popular history with...helpful end notes and an extensive bibliography...Busch takes the time to develop his story fully...The research is thorough, the writing clean." - Professor Joshua M. Smith, The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Autumn 2011. "This book is well researched. Busch tracked down a myriad of manuscript sources and consulted over one hundred newspapers from eight countries...The maps are excellent...and nautical terms and activities are explained so that a nonspecialist can profit from the reading." - The Journal of Southern History: November 2011 "With exemplary research, Busch followed an archival trail that led to twenty-two historical manuscript depositories...Equally impressive is his productive research in nearly 150 contemporary newspapers that matches his archival range...All of this, Busch has marshaled into a beautifully written and engaging narrative that places his solidly based factual details within a broad context...John Laurence Busch has made a major contribution to American maritime history with this fine book." - The Naval War College Review Winter 2012 "The Savannah...was easily one of the most important ships ever built in the thousands of years of maritime history...The modern world owes a lot to Moses Rogers and his colleagues. This big, impressive, informative and entertaining book does its subject justice." - Baird Maritime December 2011 "Busch has masterfully produced a dual biography of both the steamship Savannah and its creator, Moses Rogers... meticulously researched... well written... Steam Coffin is both a great read and a vital reference for serious scholars." - The British Journal for the History of Science Volume 44, Number 4. "Steam Coffin is the definitive account of the first transatlantic steamship and the mariner who helped conceive and command it...Busch should be commended for his prodigious archival research and imaginative use of sources...Steam Coffin offers the general reader a captivating sea yarn bookended by panoramic descriptions of life and labor in and around the young republic by the sea." - Maryland Historical Magazine, Vol 106, No 3. "Steam Coffin is meticulously researched and well written. Busch provides a wealth of detail... An absorbing, recommendable book about an innovation that changed shipping and commerce forever." - Journal of Commerce, US May 2012 "The steamboat was a paradigm-breaking accomplishment that revolutionized marine technology and transportation. The next step, a steamship, was the dream of Capt. Moses Rogers...'Steam Coffin' chronicles Rogers' path from steamboat captain to forming a company to build the world's first ocean-going steamship." - Seapower, magazine of the Navy League of the United States, July 2011. "Busch has done a remarkable job of researching and describing the wide cast of characters involved in the Savannah...All are brought into the story with detailed biographical information that brings them to life as people...This is a well-written and thought-provoking exploration of the earliest days of what was to prove a transformative technology." - Woodenboat Magazine July/August 2011. "The fruits of extensive research, substantiated by notes and references, the book is presented very much as narrative rather than technical history. Illustrations are of people rather than machines...The author is, however, successful in rescuing Rogers from obscurity, and giving him his rightful place, complete with portrait, in maritime history." - International Journal for the History of Engineering & Technology Volume 19 Number 1 (2011). "While a detailed history of the ship's career should be available to interested readers, it has not been until now...Though the Savannah was never commissioned as a warship, her place in maritime and naval history is undeniable." - Warship International Vol 48 No 2, 2011 "From the political movements of the time to the intricacies of the interconnected relationships of those whose power could and did affect Savannah, Busch demonstrates his comprehensive knowledge and attention to detail...Steam Coffin is a very informative and entertaining volume." - Nautical Research Journal Vol 55 No 2 2011 "Extensively researched...fascinating reading...The life of Savannah's skipper, Moses Rogers, is also well-chronicled...The wealth of information it contains makes the book an asset for libraries. Teachers pointing students to research projects can be assured that this is a reliable, scholarly resource." - The History Teacher Vol 44 no 2 2011 "Busch has meticulously examined all materials relevant to Savannah and...tells an entertaining story in Steam Coffin. He has an ability to give life to the events and people he describes." - Naval History Book Reviews Issue 11 "The author displays a remarkable array of historical research in developing this substantial account...There are comprehensive source notes and a splendid index...It should delight anyone with an interest in the history of the development of the steamship...a story well worth telling." - Nautical Magazine "Steam Coffin is remarkable in that it is able to present the macro and micro pictures in a graceful and engaging narrative...Busch wrote this book for a general, non-nautical audience, because he explains everything, including the most basic terms...He has an eye for the telling quotation...a fascinating account of early 19th century technology..., and the entrepreneurial spirit of the age." - PowerShips (US) "Busch...has completed an enviable amount of research, uncovering many new details... The book has something of the feel of a cosy fireside chat about it." - The Mariner's Mirror, journal of The Society for Nautical Research, Volume 97, Number 4. Busch has told this story with impeccable detail... His book has the smooth readability of a good historical novel. But, of course, it is all true to life, evidence of which is provided by eighty-nine pages of endnotes and bibliography... This is an excellent book about an important subject. -- Georgia Historical Quarterly. The review appears on pages 245-248 of Volume XCVII, Number 2.
CONTENTS: Stable Strategies for Middle Management; Fellow Americans; Computer Friendly; The Sock Story; Coming to Terms; Lichen and Rock; Contact; What Are Friends For?; Ideologically Labile Fruit Crisp; Spring Conditions; Nirvana High; Green Fire.