MOONLIGHT HELMSMAN Robert Smalls' Amazing Escape by Richard Maule
2017 recipient of 7 national awards for Historical Fiction, African American Literature, and Best First Novel.
He was alone in dreaming it could be done, but on a moonlit night in 1862, the slave Robert Smalls stole the Confederate flagship and sailed off to freedom. Richard Maule's novel, Moonlight Helmsman, brings to life one of the most amazing stories in our nation's history.
Born into bondage, Smalls longs for the sailor's life, and by the time the Civil War begins, he is assigned to pilot a Rebel ship in Charleston Harbor. Through a dramatic chain of events, Robert conspires to steal the boat, taking his friends and family along. His diverse crew includes his strong-minded wife Hannah, his preacher-turned-engineer Deke, and a fascinating madman named Spider Jefferson. Their intricate plot requires imagination, stealth, and the brazenness to defy certain death.
Taking the reader through treacherous channels, explosive mines, and enemy forts, the author leads us to a nail-biter of a climax. Faithful to the facts of history, Moonlight Helmsman is a gripping and inspiring testimony to the power of the human will. Kirkus Reviews says, "Maule skillfully renders Smalls' life through fictional embellishment, powerfully portraying his indomitable longing for liberty... a riveting story, and a sadly neglected sliver of American history... a seamless weave of historical investigation and fictional drama starring an African-American hero."