Secrets of a Civil War Submarine: Solving the Mysteries of the H.L. Hunley

Walker, Sally M. Secrets of a Civil War Submarine: Solving the Mysteries of the H.L. Hunley. 2005. 112pp. Lexile 1060.

The Civil War submarine, The Hunley, was sunk in Charleston, SC, harbor in 1863.  Despite many attempts (including a $100,000 reward offered by P.T. Barnum), it wasn’t found again until 1994. In this exemplary nonfiction book, Walker combines the two fascinating stories: the historical information about the civil war submarine and the its excavation and reconstruction.  The history discusses how the sub was built and its role in the war.  The excavation, presented in ample detail, included forensic reconstruction of eight of the crew members and historical research into who they were, based in part on artifacts found.  This combination of history, engineering, archaeology, and forensics makes for excellent reading.  Walker presents questions for the reader to consider, some of which are answered and others still remaining.  The writing is excellent, the visuals add a lot, and the topic will appeal to many readers, even those not usually interested in history or engineering. Winner of the Sibert Award.

Reading Std #5: Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and/or larger portions of the text relate to each other and the whole.  Walker alternates discussion of the modern day excavation of the Hunley with how it was built and used during the Civil War.  Analyze how alternating the information contributes to the whole and the development of ideas.