BOOK REVIEW: The Shenandoah Affair
By Paul Williams, Fantascope Pty. Ltd., Australia (2012)
Reviewed by Diana L. Ahmad, Ph.D. Missouri University of Science and Technology
In the 2012 edition of The Shenandoah Affair, author Paul Williams provides lay historians with an expanded edition of his 1992 historical novel about the adventures of CSS Shenandoah in Australia. There are basically two themes to the work. The first considers the debate about whether or not Australia should provide aid to Shenandoah in matters of repairs to the vessel and in recruiting crew members that might constitute violations of neutrality laws. This section describes the machinations of the American Consul who tried to get the Australian authorities to declare the Confederate vessel a pirate ship and have it seized. Newspapers in Australia covered the ship’s arrival and took either a pro-CSA or pro-USA position. Like the newspapers, some Australians supported the CSA, while others the USA. The second focus of the novel features the illicit romance between the commanding officer of Shenandoah, Lieutenant-Commanding James Waddell, and the wife of Captain William Nichols, Lillias Nichols. Captain and Mrs. Nichols came from multiple generational Maine shipping families. The two lovers meet when Waddell ordered the Nichols’ Yankee trading vessel, Delphine, sunk. Waddell took Delphine’s crew and passengers, as well as cargo, on board Shenandoah. In a short time, Waddell and Lillias found themselves in a love affair that began aboard ship and continued while Shenandoah was repaired near Melbourne.
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