Reviewed by Aimee

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History meets tragedy in this true tale of the harrowing events of the worst maritime disaster in Maine history. Sunday August 6th, 1899 began as any normal day with the bustle of travelers to the small but beautiful town of Hancock, Maine, but within hours chaos and tragedy befell the Mount Desert Ferry as it prepared to weigh anchor from Hancock to the island of Mount Desert. An overcrowded passenger train unloaded passengers anxious to make it to Bar Harbor to see the American Naval Fleet on their tour downeast after a recent victory. As soon as the train stopped, passengers flooded the wharf making a mad-dash to the ship. As the passengers began to force their way to the ship amidst full chaos, the gangplank broke in two throwing unwitting passengers into the churning Atlantic waves. Hemmed in by the ship at one end of the dock and the broken ends of the gangplank at the other, rescue attempts were greatly hampered as the fallen passengers fought to stay above the water unable to exit this man-made “bowl”. Well-meaning rescuers threw any objects they could find to those in the water, often striking and injuring them in the process, as it was later found that multiple victims had been struck by thrown objects knocking them unconscious and rendering them unable to swim, forcing death (or near-death) by drowning.  Also highlighted are those who showed great heroism and sacrificed themselves to save others in peril. The nearby hotel became a hospital, and crowded rail lines among other issues prevented doctors from getting to the scene to administer aid. Volunteers and hotel staff became nurses and saved multiple lives as victims were brought in after the accident. Smith does a great job of making the reader feel that they know the victims and rescuers and gives an amazing portrayal of life at the turn-of-the-century in the resort towns of coastal Maine. This book has not only played an integral part in preserving this story and bringing it back to life, but also making it relevant to today’s readers and historians. It also immortalizes those who lost their lives, and those whose heroism saved many more.  Anyone looking to learn about this catastrophic event from Maine’s history will find this volume a rare treasure.