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Ghost Ship: The Mysterious True Story of the…

Ghost Ship: The Mysterious True Story of the Mary Celeste and Her Missing… (edition 2004)

by Brian Hicks

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1591175,058 (3.68)8
Title:Ghost Ship: The Mysterious True Story of the Mary Celeste and Her Missing Crew
Authors:Brian Hicks
Info:Ballantine Books (2004), Hardcover, 304 pages
Collections:MoochedOut, Read but unowned

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Ghost Ship: The Mysterious True Story of the Mary Celeste and Her Missing Crew by Brian Hicks


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Completely solves the mystery. Well-written, well-researched. Kudos to the author! ( )
  Eliz12 | Dec 26, 2015 |
I first heard about the mystery surrounding the crew of the Mary Celeste when I was pretty young... it was through a television program, possibly "In Search Of..." and it made enough of an impact that I keep going back to the story periodically. So, I had high hopes for Brian Hicks' "Ghost Ship- The Mysterious True Story of the Mary Celeste and her Missing Crew." I was not disappointed.

Hicks does a great job, not only getting at the important facts of the tale -- the ship was found derelict with no signs of its crew, or a struggle-- but the variety of explanations and hoaxes that have added to the story over the years. I've heard Hicks' explanation for what happened to the crew before -- his book was published more than a decade ago, so I don't know if I read it in some other form or if someone else has made a similar suggestion. The explanation fits all of the data really well and seems most plausible.

I found the book to be very readable and well done. ( )
  amerynth | Dec 11, 2015 |
Growing up by Lake Michigan I always was intrigued by the story of the ghost ship the Griffon. That made me pick up this book. This is a great mystery story. A tragedy at sea with no explanation. There is great background on the seafaring family, the Briggs, the events leading up to and after the tragedy. It is interesting all the story that have come about as to what happened, everything from giant squids to water spouts. The final explanation surely seems to make the most sense. I loved this book and any maritime history buff should read it. ( )
  bnbookgirl | Sep 11, 2015 |
B-list horror films are edukashunal (or inspiring, more accurately) - who would have known? While watching Ghost Ship because there was nothing better on TV, a passing description of the original ghost ship, the Mary Celeste, prompted me to look up the history of the ill-fated merchant ship on Wiki, then download this book. Turns out that what I thought I knew - which is a damn sight more than the ignorant characters on the film - was either incorrect or woefully lacking. Brian Hicks' definitive (modern) account helpfully set me straight.

To start with, I didn't know that the Mary Celeste and her crew were American, or that the Frenchified alternative spelling of the ship's name - Marie Celeste - comes from a famous story based on the ship by Arthur Conan Doyle. I was also under the impression that she sank a lot longer ago than 1872. I was aware, thanks to the enduring legend, that her crew vanished without trace on an otherwise calm day in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, but never knew why. And although the answer has been hotly debated almost ever since, with various crackpot theories from a drunken, homicidal crew to aliens, and we may never know for certain, Hicks' theory - that the cargo of industrial alcohol was giving off noxious fumes, which the crew tried to escape by getting into the lifeboat while airing the ship - makes the most sense.

Hicks delivers a thoroughly engrossing and comprehensive narrative, from the history and crew of the Mary Celeste (and the Dei Gratia who recovered her) to the final fate of the 'cursed' ship, including some of the more outlandish theories and hoaxes along the way. By the final chapters, I was feeling defensive of Captain Briggs' reputation too, and hope that he and his family and crew didn't suffer too harshly for one making one tragic miscalculation.

There is definitely a film to be made of the true account, however. Consider the atmosphere aboard the ghost ship when the crew of the Dei Gratia found her, and the zealous lawyer who tried to prosecute the unlucky salvors, then the ship's increasingly murky track record, not forgetting the eternal mystery of her missing crew, which has been tied to all sorts of natural and unnatural events. Surely the facts present a more convincing plot than the hokum I endured while watching that dreadful film about a haunted ocean liner! ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | Jan 29, 2013 |
The mystery of the Mary Celeste and the disappearance of her crew in 1872 is one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of all time. For anyone who has ever wondered what happened aboard the Mary Celeste, Brian Hicks' book is for you.

Over 150 years ago, Captain Benjamin Spooner Briggs, his wife and daughter along with the crew disappeared without a trace. The derelict brigantine was found days later, by the crew of the Dei Gratia. The seaworthy brigantine with her load intact was brought into Gibraltar amidst rumors of foul play. Although the Dei Gratia crew expected the salvage hearing to proceed quickly and be rewarded handsomely; things did not go as expected. Instead the proceedings were tied up for weeks as they had to deal with the overzealous local attorney general Frederick Solly Flood, who insinuated something more sinister.

Today much of what we know about the Mary Celeste is shrouded in myth. Hollywood has done a great job in leading us astray as well, but author Brian Hicks separates fact from fiction in his treatment of the topic. Hicks investigates all the possibilities including mutiny, foul play, piracy, and insurance fraud. Explore the hoaxes and possible solutions for yourself and decide if the Mary Celeste was cursed from the beginning or simply unlucky.

The Bottom Line: For readers who enjoy true mysteries, "Ghost Ship: The Mysterious True Story of the Mary Celeste and Her Missing Crew" doesn't disappoint. Author Brian Hicks lays out the facts and the background story of the ship and her fateful voyage as he helps dispel the myths surrounding of the Mary Celeste. This is one of those nonfiction books that reads like fiction; it has everything including deception, mystery, and suspense. Recommended for anyone with an interest in true stories, mysteries, shipwrecks, and maritime history.

This review also appears at the Mini Book Bytes Book Review Blog: http://minibookbytes.blogspot.com/ ( )
  aya.herron | Feb 22, 2012 |
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Down dropt the breeze, the sails dropt down, 'Twas sad as sad could be; And we did speak only to break the silence of the sea! -Samuel Taylor Coleridge The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Is the ship accursed? Was there ever a voyage which began so fairly and which changed so disastrously? -Arthur Conan Doyle "J. Habakuk Jephson's Statement"
In memory of Rhonda Mae Coleman
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The ship drifted restlessly through the whitecaps, like a lost soul wandering among tombstones.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345466659, Paperback)

On December 4th, 1872, a 100-foot brigantine was discovered drifting through the North Atlantic without a soul on board. Not a sign of struggle, not a shred of damage, no ransacked cargo—and not a trace of the captain, his wife and daughter, or the crew. What happened on board the ghost ship Mary Celeste has baffled and tantalized the world for 130 years. In his stunning new book, award-winning journalist Brian Hicks plumbs the depths of this fabled nautical mystery and finally uncovers the truth.

The Mary Celeste was cursed as soon as she was launched on the Bay of Fundy in the spring of 1861. Her first captain died before completing the maiden voyage. In London she accidentally rammed and sank an English brig. Later she was abandoned after a storm drove her ashore at Cape Breton. But somehow the ship was recovered and refitted, and in the autumn of 1872 she fell to the reluctant command of a seasoned mariner named Benjamin Spooner Briggs. It was Briggs who was at the helm when the Mary Celeste sailed into history.

In Brian Hicks’s skilled hands, the story of the Mary Celeste becomes the quintessential tale of men lost at sea. Hicks vividly recreates the events leading up to the crew’s disappearance and then unfolds the complicated and bizarre aftermath—the dark suspicions that fell on the officers of the ship that intercepted her; the farcical Admiralty Court salvage hearing in Gibraltar; the wild myths that circulated after Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published a thinly disguised short story sensationalizing the mystery. Everything from a voodoo curse to an alien abduction has been hauled out to explain the fate of the Mary Celeste. But, as Brian Hicks reveals, the truth is actually grounded in the combined tragedies of human error and bad luck. The story of the Mary Celeste acquired yet another twist in 2001, when a team of divers funded by novelist Clive Cussler located the wreck in a coral reef off Haiti.

Written with the suspense of a thriller and the vivid accuracy of the best popular history, Ghost Ship tells the unforgettable true story of the most famous and most fascinating maritime mystery of all time.

From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:24 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

An investigation into the unsolved disappearance of the crew of the Mary Celeste in 1872 draws on previously unpublished letters and photographs, as well as new theories and discoveries, to explain what may have happened.

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