Replete with vivid details, including the terrible conditions in Confederate prisoner-of-war camps, Walker’s engrossing narrative builds to a horrific description of the terrified passengers’ actions and ensuing civilian rescue efforts. Although Walker conveys astonishment, even outrage, that no one was held responsible for this tragedy, she presents the evidence with an even hand.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
In addition to archival illustrative material, Walker makes extensive use of primary sources…a finely detailed, well-researched chronicle of a little-known disaster.
Walker sets the scene for the Sultana disaster as she describes the captain’s greed (allowing 2,400 passengers when the legal capacity was 376), the chief engineer’s decision to repair rather than replace a deteriorating boiler, the flooded river, and other factors that would come into play….History buffs, and even adults, will be the biggest fans of this crossover YA title.
Readers who have already devoured the abundance of material on the Titanic will be drawn to the story of the Sultana, which despite being the “worst maritime disaster in American history” is often overshadowed. A riveting and informative addition to nonfiction collections.
—School Library Journal
Fans of Walker’s Secrets of a Civil War Submarine: Solving Mysteries of the H. L. Hunley (BCCB 6/05) already know her skill at illuminating maritime disaster from many angles; here she investigates the suspected bribery, commercial greed, military ineptitude, and myriad fatal decisions (possibly extending all the way up to President Lincoln himself ) that raised the disaster from sad to epic…This goes on every shipwreck aficionado’s must-read list.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books