Research by History Professor David Switzer

June 24th, 2002 by Adam

Plymouth State College Professor of History David C. Switzer’s book Snow Squall: The Last American Clipper Ship (Tilbury House), has received the John Lyman Book Award, 2002 from the North American Society for Oceanic History. Switzer co-wrote the book with maritime historian Nicholas Dean.

Snow Squall begins and ends with Switzer’s account of numerous trips that he, Dean and their team of nautical archaeologists took to the Falkland Islands to recover the remains of the 19th-century, Maine-built clipper ship Snow Squall. Sandwiched in between is Dean’s history of the working life of the ship itself, which began in the Cornelius Butler shipyard in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, in 1851 and ended, in Switzer’s words, “a hulk incorporated into the head of a Falkland Island Company jetty.”

At least, it was supposed to end there. But the mission of Switzer, Dean and their team was to recover the remains of the ship and bring it back to America, undeterred by the damage that had been inflicted during the Falklands war between Great Britain and Argentina.

It took 18 years and four expeditions to complete the recovery that culminates with this fascinating story. Switzer writes, “For those of us whose lives were shaped (or sometimes bent) as a result of years of involvement with Snow Squall, there is a comfortable feeling that, all in all, we did the right thing.”

The book has been well received. John Rousmaniere, author of Fastnet and The Low Black Schooner, writes, “A first-rate maritime history and an exciting story of archaeological detection, Snow Squall brings America’s last clipper ship back to life.”

According to the North American Society for Oceanic History, John Lyman Books Awards are given annually to the authors of books published during the past year that are judged by the Society to have made the most significant contributions to naval and maritime literature.