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Saturday, February 27, 2016

New maritime books

Historical Fiction | Healthy Living | NY State |Sports
Now available from McBooks Press!
Compelling historical naval adventure from a master of maritime storytelling--

1796: Nathan Peake, captain of the frigate
Unicorn is sent into the troubled waters of the Adriatic. His mission: to scourge the sea of pirates and turn the Serene Republic of Venice against Revolutionary France.
But Nathan is soon drawn into a much more sinister web. At its heart two of the most feared women of the age: Emma Hamilton, the courtesan turned courtier, and the nun Caterina Caresini, uncrowned queen of Venice. And--most feared of all--the mysterious agent of the Three Inquisitors, known as Il Diavolo, the Devil.
As Nathan confronts the politics of "intrigue, poison and the stiletto," he plays a deadly game with the ambitious young general Napoleon Bonaparte. In a bid to save the British fleet, Nathan joins forces with Horatio Nelson for a dramatic breakout from the Mediterranean and a perilous battle off Cape Saint Vincent that could change the very course of the war.
Praise for the Nathan Peake series--
"[Hunter] delivers another slick nautical adventure in the Patrick O'Brian tradition . . . The rousing naval battles, twisty plot, and muscular prose lift Hunter's nautical yarn a few notches above the competition." --Publishers Weekly
"A compelling read, imaginative, knowledgeable, fast moving . . . full of twists and turns." --Naval Review
"Well wrought and deftly told." --Daily Telegraph 
Save $5.68. Our Price, $13.27, is 30% off of the $18.95 List Price.

Our ebooks are available at Amazon, Apple, B&N, Kobo and elsewhere.
Coming in May!

From an author whose books have sold 34 million copies in nearly two-dozen languages--
Singapore, November 1941: Lieutenant Ralph Trewin, a proud recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross, arrives at Singapore as second-in-command of the shallow-draught gunboat, H.M.S. Porcupine. To Trewin, still shocked from wounds received during the evacuation of Crete, the gunboat and her five elderly consorts symbolise the ignorance and blind optimism he finds in Singapore. And the captain of the Porcupineis as unwilling as the rest to take heed of Trewin's alarm, for to him the gunboat represents his last chance.
One month later the Japanese invade Malaya and three months after that Singapore, the "Gibraltar of the Far East"--a British rock that could not be taken--knows the humiliation of surrender. Through the misery and despair of this bloody campaign Trewin and his captain are forced to draw on each other's beliefs and weaknesses, and together they weld the little gunboat into a symbol of bravery and pride.
ISBN-13: 9781590137093
List Price: $18.95/Our Price: $13.27 (30% off saves you $5.68)
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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

NHA Named 2016 National Medal for Museum & Library Service Finalist

Nantucket Historical Association
2016 National Medal
for Museum and Library Service Finalist
for the Second Year in a Row!


The National Medal for Museum and Library Service is the nation's highest honor given to museums and libraries by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), in recognition of exceptional service to the community and for making a difference in the lives of individuals, families, and communities. 

This year's finalists include individual public libraries, special and research libraries, science museums, botanical gardens, children's museums, and many other types of institutions that exemplify the great diversity of libraries and museums across the country. 
We are thrilled to share that the Nantucket Historical Association  
has been named as a finalist for the
2016 National Medal award (the second time in two years)!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Shantyman recognized by Kirkus

The Shantyman – One of Kirkus’ Best Indie Books of the Year 2015


A highlight of the year was the announcement that Rick Spilman’s novel “The Shantyman” was selected as one of Kirkus Reviews’ Best Indie Books for 2015.

From the review:
With eloquent accuracy, Spilman’s novel captures the life of a 19th-century sailor…. Spilman’s colorful, well-researched novel will enthrall both sailing enthusiasts and landlubbers.  A fabulously gripping sailor’s yarn.


Friday, February 19, 2016

Sex and the sea

From the Economist

Sex in the Sea: Our Intimate Connection with Sex-Changing Fish, Romantic Lobsters, Kinky Squid, and Other Salty Erotica of the Deep. By Marah Hardt. St Martin’s Press; 257 pages. $26.99.

IN THE Olympics of extreme sex, the gold medal, says Marah Hardt, goes to fish and other saltwater species. Sea life depends on sophisticated strategies honed over millennia to meet and mate. The ocean covers 71% of the Earth’s surface, so hooking up in a singles bar spread over 1.3 billion cubic kilometres (0.3 billion cubic miles) is no easy task. Reproduction and survival of the sexiest is what it is about.

Though it finishes on a more sombre note, Ms Hardt’s book, “Sex in the Sea”, starts as a voyeuristic romp (“Oceanic Orgies: Getting It On in Groups” is one chapter title). Cuttlefish are cross-dressers, the male argonaut (a pelagic octopus) has a detachable, projectile penis, dolphins are in flagrante acrobats, and group sex erupts (where else?) on the California coast twice a year when tens of thousands of grunions disport themselves on the beach. Led by the moon and tides, the small fish fling themselves ashore. The female digs a hole in the sand with her tail, backs in, lays eggs, and waits while up to eight males snuggle up and release their sperm. Kama Sutra, meet Jacques Cousteau.

Oceanpornography-cute aside (the last section, is, predictably, “Post Climax”), there is a sober moral to the story. Because of the heavy human footprint, even the cleverest underwater sex strategy struggles to succeed. The sea is becoming unsustainable. A recent World Wildlife Fund report warns that the mammals, birds, reptiles and fish that rely on the sea have been reduced by half in the past 40 years, mostly because of overfishing. According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, consumption per person has nearly doubled from 10kg (22lbs) in the 1960s to more than 19kg in 2012. Other insults include global warming, plastic rubbish (which kills marine mammals by strangulation or ingestion of debris) and acid rain. The undersea reproductive race is sometimes lost before it has begun. “It is tough to perform under pressure,” Ms Hardt says.

Still, she is heartened by the number of countries willing to create protected areas. Last March the British government set aside 834,000 square km (322,000 square miles) of ocean for the Pitcairn Islands Marine Reserve—the largest single marine protected area anywhere. Other moves include implementing no-take zones, developing underwater ecotourism, recycling ocean trash and insisting on sustainable fishing. Even so, some scientists worry that it may be too late. To ensure that undersea sex is not subverted by overfishing and environmental degradation will require global co-operation. Otherwise, we are in for a very sad love story.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Late mail delivery

Sydney (AFP) - A letter from a man to his mother flown out of Paris by hot air balloon during the Prussian siege in 1870 has turned up in Australia's National Archives, which said on Tuesday it was keen to discover the family's fate.

The Franco-Prussian War saw the Germans completely surround Paris for more than four months that year.

Balloon mail was the only way communications from Paris could reach the rest of France, with dozens of flights made, mostly at night, and hundreds of thousands of letters delivered.

One of them has been discovered by the National Archives. It was penned in French on December 6, 1870 by a man named Charles Mesnier (or Mesmier) to his mother, care of Monsieur Grussin (or Grossin) at 8 Place de la Ville, Pont-Audemer, in Normandy.

"It's a intriguing human element to an important piece of history," National Archives assistant director-general Louise Doyle told AFP.

"We're not sure how it ended up in Australia, but it would be fascinating to know more. If people see this it would be interesting to have more context in relation to this record."

The letter was transferred to the archive's Brisbane office from the former Queensland Post and Telegraph Museum in 2001, but there is no information about its origin.

It came to light recently as part of a joint project between the National Archives of Australia and the Archives Nationales in France.

In the letter, which is full of fervour, the man assures his mother he is in good health.

"We don't have meat every day and when we do get some it is not very much, but we can easily get by as things are and no one in our household is complaining," he wrote.

Mesnier added: "The desire to repulse the Prussians is right now the solitary concern of Paris. Any suffering can be borne rather than opening the gates of the capital to them."

He goes on to speak of "some real battles" around the city between November 29 and December 1 in which "our young soldiers have beaten the seasoned Prussian army".

"We have taken their cannon and captured 1,000 prisoners -- these days of good fortune have raised the morale of the fearful," he said.

"We cannot succeed in all our attacks but I have the firm conviction, my good mother, that the ultimate success will be for our just cause."

His hopes were dashed, with the city surrendering in late January 1871 after sustained bombardment.

Mesnier could not have expected a reply from his family. While the prevailing winds sent the balloons over the heads of the Prussian army towards French lines, they could not go the other way.

The single-sheet letter is just 207mm x 133 mm (eight by five inches), folded into an envelope with the address on the reverse side and Eure, the department where Pont-Audemer is located, written on the top left along with "par ballon monte" -- for delivery by hot air balloon.

Doyle said it was sent on December 7 and arrived in Pont-Audemer on the 16th.

"He's saying to his family not to worry about him and he's really at the point of saying the city is pushing back against the Prussians," said Doyle.

"It's one of those quirky and unusual documents and it would be fascinating to learn more."

How to Heal the World

Guest post from Shel Horowitz

How the Profit Motive Can Solve Hunger, Poverty, War, and Catastrophic Climate Change
By Shel Horowitz

Two years ago, I finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up: the person who proves that the business world can end hunger, poverty, war, and catastrophic climate change.

Not through guilt or shame—through enlightened self-interest: profit. Developing a core business identity based in social transformation, creating/marketing products and services that address these issues directly.

 Let's make that concrete:

    • Example 1: inexpensive, profitable solar-powered LED lanterns eliminate kerosene's toxic fumes and deadly fires…fund the purchase out of a household's existing kerosene budget…provide better light, enabling kids to get better grades and parents to take on a cottage industry—ladders out of poverty (at least three companies make these)

   • Example 2: holistic design: without furnace or AC, you can save 80% energy/carbon. nature knows how to build a curved anthill that withstands both India's intense monsoon flooding and the inhospitable dry climate the rest of the year.

   • Example 3: self-feeding loops grow mushrooms on the spent grain from a brewery, feed the mushroom waste to a tilapia (fish) crop, and uses the fish nutrients to grow gourmet salad greens. This cycle creates new jobs, improves quality of life *and* food self-sufficiency, and restores polluted water—all at once.

 Pretty cool, huh? I've spent the past two years looking at how systemic thinking can eliminate scarcity, balance the planet, and promote peace.

 My 10th book, Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World, comes out in April, with 22 endorsements including Jack Canfield and Seth Godin, and four essays from Cynthia Kersey (author of Unstoppable/Unstoppable Women), Frances Moore LappĂ© (Diet for a Small Planet), Yanik Silver (Evolved Enterprise), and Ken McArthur (The Impact Factor). It's the best thing I've ever done.

 If enough people read it, this book can change the world! Learn more:  

Green/social change business profitability expert Shel Horowitz shows you how profit by greening your business, turning hunger and poverty into sufficiency, war into peace, and catastrophic climate change into planetary balance, and marketing these commitments. Shel’s 10th book, Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World (Morgan James Publishing), highlights profitable and successful socially responsible strategies used by companies from Fortune 100 to solopreneurs. To discuss your next project with him or schedule a no-charge 15-minute strategy session: shel [AT], 413-586-2388 (8 a.m. to 10 p.m., US Eastern Time), Twitter: @ShelHorowitz

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Nantucket Historical Association

What the Research Fellows of this prestigious historical society and whaling museum have been up to...

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Growing Respectability of Indie Publishing

From the BBC

Andy Weir's The Martian eventually went on to become a Hollywood blockbuster. But the story was originally published chapter by chapter on the author's blog for free.

Oscar-nominated film The Martian starring Matt Damon began life as a self-published book
This turned out to be great exposure and it became a huge hit as an audiobook, e-book and physical book.

"There was an adversarial attitude between mainstream publishing houses and self publishers a few years ago," says Mr Bond, "but I think that's changed dramatically."

He attributes this to traditional publishers' new-found admiration for the self publishers' social media skills, which have helped them find new readers without the benefit of expensive marketing campaigns.

Lawyer-turned-author Mark Dawson, for example, uses his website and Facebook page to give out free copies of his thrillers and curates 'Readers' Groups'. Online conversations help him establish a closer relationship with his readers encouraging them to come back for subsequent publications.

Another thriller writer Joanna Penn has bolstered her following by helping others to self-publish through her website which explains how to go about self publishing. She also hosts a popular podcast interview series.

So-called "Instapoets" like New Zealander Lang Leav have built up huge followings on Instagram and Tumblr, publishing their work on these platforms, before securing traditional publishing deals.

Also see my own help site for prospective Indie authors,

There are cautionary tales as well as successes, however.  READ MORE 

Publishing opportunities for historians

Notification from the publishers of Praeger books.

Writing Opportunities

We are looking for authors to execute the following book projects:
  • Twentieth-Century and Contemporary American Literature in Context
  • The Historian’s Red Badge of Courage: Reading Stephen Crane’s  Masterpiece as Social and Cultural History
  • Health and Wellness in 20th-Century America
  • Eyewitness to History: The Salem Witch Trials
  • Eyewitness to History: The Lewis & Clark Expedition
  • Artifacts from Nineteenth-Century America: Daily Life of Nineteenth-Century Americans Illustrated

We are actively seeking contributors for encyclopedia entries in the following works in progress:

Shaping the New World
A Social, Political, and Cultural Encyclopedia and Document Collection of Colonial America
James E. Seelye, Christine Eisel, and Shawn Selby, Editors

Political Groups, Parties, and Organizations that Shaped America: An Encyclopedia and Document Collection
Scott H. Ainsworth and Brian M. Harward, Editors

All Things Steinbeck: An Encyclopedia of John Steinbeck's World
Edited by Susan Shillinglaw and Katharine A. Rodger

The World of the Antebellum America: A Daily Life Encyclopedia
Edited by Jaime A. Martinez

Technological Innovation in American History
An Encyclopedia of Science and Technology

  If you are interested in contributing, please send your C.V. to Michael Millman at

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Underwater restaurant

Innovative underwater restaurant built in New Zealand

The multi-million dollar underwater restaurant which will be shipped to the Maldives in the Indian Ocean.

The multi-million dollar underwater restaurant that will be shipped to the Maldives in the Indian Ocean.

Creating a 450 tonne restaurant to sit underwater on a coral reef has taken a fair bit of Kiwi ingenuity.
Fitzroy Engineering in New Plymouth has spent almost 10 months building, painting and outfitting an underwater restaurant, the second in the world, for a resort in the Maldives in the Indian Ocean.

Creating the 18 metre by 5 metre structure took some inventive techniques, said project manager Adrian van't Hof.

The Island where the restaurant will be placed under the water. Its future position is circled in red.

The Island where the restaurant will be placed under the water. Its future position is circled in red.
For instance, working out how to weld the 80 tonne steel base of the restaurant into place wasn't easy.

"We worked out a way of flipping it over rotisserie style so that we could weld both sides to keep it straight. It's been interesting more than challenging," van't Hof said. 

The inside of the restaurant during construction.

The inside of the restaurant during construction.

He said the company was used to working on pressurised underwater vessels because of the work it did in the oil and gas industry.

The restaurant will sit on the side of a coral reef, with the right hand side facing the reef and and the left side looking out to sea.

The coral beneath the structure had been removed from the rocks and was being grown on concrete slabs, which would then be mounted onto the left hand side of the structure to attract fish.

Fitzroy Engineering' business development and marketing manager Mark Arnold said the restaurant was more like a dinning room, as the food would be prepared onshore and carried down in a dumbwaiter lift.

Diners would access the restaurant by walking out to a hut above the water, before walking down a spiral staircase which would have two small windows that would give them a glimpse of what was to come.

The roof, sides and end wall of the dining room are made of acrylic, giving near panoramic views of the reef.

Arnold said managing the whole project, instead of just the construction, was a highlight for the company.

"One of the keys for us was to be able to manage all the sub-trades," he said. "We were able to deliver a complete project."

The structure would be trucked from Fitzroy Engineering's workshop in Waiwhakaiho to Port Taranaki on Tuesday night, leaving at 10.30pm and arriving about 4am on Wednesday morning.

A specialist ship is waiting offshore and would come in once the restaurant was at the port.
The ship would then head to the Maldives, near the equator in the Indian Ocean, where the restaurant would be lowered into position and concreted in.

Arnold said the project was an example of how the company was diversifying with the downturn in the oil and gas sector.

"It's certainly something we would like to do more of," he said.

Taranaki company Fitzroy Engineering building underwater restaurant for Maldives
The Maldives travel guide and things to do: 20 reasons to visit
Fitzroy giant on the move
Earth moved as bridge taken to river

Thursday, February 4, 2016

More journalists slaughtered

From the NYRB Daily

More than fifty journalists have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001. But until this year, nobody had tried to massacre an entire busload of journalists in the center of Kabul, all working for the country’s largest and most successful broadcaster. That changed on January 20, when a suicide bomber drove a car laden with explosives into a minibus taking forty journalists and staff of Tolo TV home after a day at the office.

At least seven people were killed including several women in their early twenties; some of the victims were burnt and scarred beyond recognition. Another twenty-six were injured, many extremely seriously. It was easily the most deadly single attack against journalists ever made in Afghan history...

Notwithstanding the one trillion dollars spent in Afghanistan by American taxpayers since 2001, the fact is that Afghanistan is a country whose government has hardly any ability to enforce its writ, even in the capital itself. Corruption and warlordism have become an essential part of the system and the population has gradually lost faith in its leadership. And as security continues to deteriorate, Afghans now make up the second largest contingent of asylum-seekers arriving in Europe, their numbers surpassed only by those fleeing Syria. According to UN statistics, they constitute almost 15 percent of the 650,000 refugees who reached Europe between January and August. Many of them come from well-educated, middle-class backgrounds and had good jobs in Afghanistan when there was still a large presence of foreign forces in the country.

Amid this collapse of the rule of law, Tolo TV has been one of the few bright spots. The network has built up an amazing reputation for reporting the news as it is and presenting the country’s problems as they unfold. It is also intensely creative, translating programs such as American Idol into the hugely popular Afghan Idol, and launching the country’s first league soccer teams. Tolo’s soap operas are watched around the region. Tolo is less a TV station than a national institution in a country that has few others.

But this reputation has come at a steep price. Last year the Taliban threatened Tolo after they accused it of misreporting atrocities carried out in Kunduz when the northern city briefly fell under Taliban control. There was a direct threat against Tolo CEO Saad Mohseni and his three brothers, who help run Tolo. Staff members and prominent TV anchors also received threats.

 Hit the link at the top to read the rest of this very disturbing story.

Article written by  Ahmed Rashid

Travel scams

Sun, sea and scams

Southern Cross Travel Insurance survey reveals how crime affects us on holiday.
  • 60% of people have encountered a crime whilst travelling overseas.
  • 15% have been ripped off converting currency.
  • 21% have been deliberately given incorrect change.
  • 7% have had a bank card duplicated or stolen.
  • 5% have been mugged or robbed and a further 5% have been pick-pocketed.
  • 38% of travellers stated that crime ruined part, or all, of their holiday.
  • 14% of people had to cover the losses themselves, because they had no travel insurance.


Where travellers encounter crime

  • Indonesia / Bali 14%
  • Thailand 11%
  • USA 10%
  • Hong Kong 8%
  • China 7%
  • Fiji 7%
  • France 7%
  • Italy 5%
  • Malaysia 5%
  • Singapore 5%
  • UK 5%
  • Vietnam 5%

5 tips for avoiding crime

  1. Keep valuables in sight or in a secure place such as the hotel safe
  2. Avoid walking around at night alone, especially in unlit areas
  3. Stay sharp! Don’t drink too much and get plenty of rest
  4. Don’t keep all your money in one place and never leave your wallet in your back pocket
  5. Make it difficult for pickpockets by keeping your bag zipped and close to you

What to do if you encounter crime

  • Contact the police immediately
  • Get a police report to help with any claims
  • Contact your travel insurance company who will be able to advise what documents you need to make a claim

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Death Toll

In just the last 25 years, the deaths have been confirmed of 2297 journalists and other media staff, who have been killed for nothing more than trying to keep the world informed about the state of a war.  Or for writing about a revolution.  Or for exposing crime and corruption.

Their killers continue to act with impunity, according to a new report by the International Federation of Journalists.

In 1990 the toll was 40.  Since then, it has always exceeded a hundred each year.

"The last ten years were the most dangerous," said the General Secretary of the organization, Anthony Bellanger.

In Afghanistan, more journalists have been killed by unfriendly fire than American soldiers.

Read more