A Man and His Ship
Steven Ujifusa Twitter feed Hop Aboard the SS United States here!
From Simon & Schuster: In the tradition of David McCullough’s grand histories, the sweeping story of one man’s quest to build the fastest, finest ocean liner in history—set against the politics, culture, and enterprise of twentieth century America.
Taking readers back to a golden age, when America’s industrial might, innovative ambition, and maritime dynamism were unmatched, Steven Ujifusa’s groundbreaking debut sheds light on a forgotten genius and the sleek vision to which he gave birth.
William Francis Gibbs was an American original, on par with John Roebling of the Brooklyn Bridge and Frank Lloyd Wright of Fallingwater. Forced to drop out of Harvard following his family’s sudden financial ruin, he overcame debilitating shyness and lack of formal training to become the visionary creator of some of the finest ships in history. moreHe spent forty years dreaming of the ship that became his post-World War II masterpiece, the S.S. United States— a cutting-edge ocean liner whose hull and engine room designs were classified top secret. Capable of carrying 2,000 passengers at the record-breaking clip of 35.59 knots, she could be transformed into a troopship capable of delivering 14,000 soldiers over 10,000 miles without refueling. In telling the story of this iconic vessel that delivered people from all walks of life across the Atlantic for almost two decades, Ujifusa captures a perfect storm of man and machine, when one innovator’s dream stamped its mark on an era. A Man and His Ship is a first-rate work of history that heralds the arrival of an exciting new talent.
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Praise for A Man and His Ship:
Selected by The Wall Street Journal as one of the ten best non-fiction books of 2012!
“In his first book, historian Ujifusa delivers a delightful account of the era of grand ocean liners and the brilliant, single-minded designer who yearned to build the greatest ocean liner of all…Ujifusa concentrates on [Gibbs's] career, an excellent decision that results in a vivid account of the business, politics and technical details surrounding transatlantic travel in that time period.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Written with passion and thoroughness, this is a love letter to a bygone time and the ships that once ruled the seas.”
“[An] absorbing, transporting new history…Ujifusa’s book is a portrait in determination, as Gibbs’s plans for his big ship are continually tossed about in political, economic and personal squalls.”
-The New York Times (TMagazine)
“Few of man’s creations possess even half the romance of the passenger ships that once steamed across the world’s oceans, especially the North Atlantic. That is why Steven Ujifusa’s A Man and His Ship is such a compelling work. It is ostensibly a biography of William Francis Gibbs…Mr. Ujifusa brings this obsessive, introverted man to life.”
-John Steele Gordon, The Wall Street Journal
A terrific book! By entertaining, informing and ultimately inspiring, A Man and His Ship transforms its readers into passengers traveling across an ocean and through time. A skilled verbal navigator, Steven Ujifusa has charted an efficient and yet immensely satisfying course through a sea of facts, images and stories.By entertaining, informing and ultimately inspiring, A Man and His Ship transforms its readers into passengers traveling across an ocean and through time. A skilled verbal navigator, Steven Ujifusa has charted an efficient and yet immensely satisfying course through a sea of facts, images and stories.
-David Macaulay, best-selling author of Cathedral, Castle and The Way Things Work.
“Gibbs’s is a story of immense achievement and contribution to his country. It is also one of relentless focus, persistence, and optimism…A Man and His Ship is a monument that William Francis Gibbs, one of the rarest and purest expressions of the American character, richly deserves.” –Michael Anton, The National Review
Steven Ujifusa has done something remarkable in his book, A Man and His Ship: he has brought back an era of American dominance in shipbuilding through the life of one of its giants: William Francis Gibbs. In some ways, Gibbs was the Steve Jobs of his era – a perfectionist with few people skills who nevertheless was single-handedly able to change his industry by the power of his vision and overwhelming professional competence. We need more public historians like Ujifusa working in business history. Using the highest research standards, he has written a great book that tells great story.
–G. Richard Shell, Thomas Gerrity Professor, The Wharton School of Business, and author of Bargaining for Advantage: Negotiation Strategies for Reasonable People.
“Ujifusa…has written his first book about the efforts of a driven dreamer to construct the S.S. United States as the most magnificent liner afloat. The S.S. United States was the culmination of decades of planning, and Ujifusa describes the construction of the ship in engrossing detail and provides informative digressions on the golden age of ocean travel, when liners carried millionaires, celebrities, and desperate refugees.” –Booklist
“A Man and His Ship, a hugely entertaining re-creation of the age of the ocean liner, will leave older readers nostalgic, younger readers envious, and all of them engrossed in the drama of William Francis Gibbs as he fights to build the greatest ship of them all, the S.S. United States. The Cunard Line once boasted that ‘getting there is half the fun.’Now Steven Ujifusa has given us the other half.” —A. J. Langguth, author of Driven West
“A marvelous narrative of America’s premier naval architect .” —Barrett Tillman, author of Enterprise
“The sea inspires obsessions in determined men, from Captain Ahab to Admiral Rickover. Steven Ujifusa introduces us to another – the naval architect William Francis Gibbs. His ingenious design of mass-producible Liberty ships helped win World War II, but Gibbs’ obsession was to build the world’s fastest, safest and most elegant Atlantic liner. He ultimately succeeded, but in a decade his masterpiece was obsolete and unprofitable. Ujifusa narrates this tragedy well, in all its technical, political and human dimensions.” –Admiral Dennis C. Blair, U.S. Navy (Ret.), Former Director of National Intelligence