Hicks, Brian 1966–
Hicks, Brian 1966–
Born 1966; married; children: two sons.
Home—Charleston, SC. Office—The Post and Courier, 134 Columbus St., Charleston, SC 29403-4800.
Post and Courier, Charleston, SC, senior writer.
Named Journalist of the Year, South Carolina Press Association.
(With Tony Bartelme) Into the Wind, around Alone: The Story of the World's Longest Race, Evening Post Publishing (Charleston, SC), 1999.
(With Schuyler Kropf) Raising the Hunley: The Remarkable History and Recovery of the Lost Confederate Submarine, Ballantine (New York, NY), 2002.
Ghost Ship: The Mysterious True Story of the Mary Celeste and Her Missing Crew, Ballantine (New York, NY), 2004.
When the Dancing Stopped: The Real Story of the Morro Castle Disaster and Its Deadly Wake, Free Press (New York, NY), 2006.
Brian Hicks is a journalist who has authored or coauthored several nonfiction books on maritime subjects. His first book, Into the Wind, around Alone: The Story of the World's Longest Race, was cowritten with fellow journalist Tony Bartelme and tells the story of an offshore classic maritime race of sailboats with a one-man crew. The race begins in Charleston, South Carolina, and takes the skippers on a 27,000-mile journey around the world. In the book, Hicks and Bartelme recount the racers' various adventures, including one competitor who was forced to perform surgery on himself and another who capsized in the freezing waters near Antarctica.
In his next book, Raising the Hunley: The Remarkable History and Recovery of the Lost Confederate Submarine, Hicks collaborated with Schuyler Kropf to tell the story of the Hunley. A Confederate submarine, the Hunley mysteriously sank to the bottom of the ocean, where it would lie for 131 years until raised by salvagers led by author Clive Cussler on August 8, 2000. In the first part of the book, the authors discuss the ship's development and profile its creators and crew as they reconstruct the ship's final, fateful voyage. The book also delves into the salvage process and the historical secrets that the vessel finally revealed, especially concerning the pioneering crewmembers' final hours.
Writing in Library Journal, Charles K. Piehl recommended Raising the Hunley but had "reservations." Piehl felt the "book lacks sufficient background research" and noted that it is "weak in historical context" and does not "address the broader issues surrounding the boat's recovery." A Kirkus Reviews contributor, however, commended the authors for their "sharp eye for engaging detail and poignant coincidence" but also felt that "the subject has excited them so thoroughly that they write more like romance novelists than historical journalists." In a review for Booklist, Margaret Flanagan called the book a "fascinating chronicle" and noted: "This riveting narrative features a winning combination of Civil War arcana, maritime history, and underwater archaeology." John F. Guilmartin, Jr., called the book "compellingly" well written in a review for the Journal of Southern History.
Hicks struck out on his own to write Ghost Ship: The Mysterious True Story of the Mary Celeste and Her Missing Crew. The author tells the legendary story of the 100-foot brigantine Mary Celeste, which was found drifting off the coast of Portugal in December of 1872. The ship was deserted, but there was no sign of anything being wrong. Since that time, numerous people have offered theories about what happened to the ship's crew. In Ghost Ship, Hicks examines these many theories and debunks the majority of them, such as the theory that a giant squid had somehow taken away the crew. He also delves into the theory that the crew of the Dei Gratia, who towed the ship to shore after its discovery, might have had a hand in dispatching the crew.
School Library Journal contributor Ted Woodcock called Ghost Ship "very readable" and noted that the book "gives new life to an old mystery." A Publishers Weekly contributor called Hicks "a master of cliffhanging phrases" and noted that "he hooks readers with warnings of the ship's bad luck and poor timing." In a review in Booklist, George Cohen noted that "Hicks does an exceptional job of storytelling," while a Kirkus Reviews contributor commented that Hicks's book is "an excellent, clear-eyed primer to one of the world's most resilient ghost stories."
Hicks continued his nautical-themed publications in 2006 with When the Dancing Stopped: The Real Story of the Morro Castle Disaster and Its Deadly Wake. The Morro Castle was an American cruise ship that mysteriously caught fire in 1934. Its captain died of a supposed heart attack while returning from Havana. Nearly half of the passengers died from the blaze, by drowning, or from the ship's propellers. An FBI investigation looked into possible criminal intent in this tragic disaster. A contributor to Publishers Weekly commended Hicks' vast research on the event, adding that "it never weighs down the narrative, which draws the reader in from the get-go." George Cohen, writing in Booklist, called the book "a riveting account of this tragedy and the man who apparently caused it." A contributor to Kirkus Reviews wrote that the extensive research and personal accounts helped lend "the narrative a sense of immediacy." The same reviewer concluded by calling the book "a suspenseful, highly satisfying read."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 1, 2002, Margaret Flanagan, review of Raising the Hunley: The Remarkable History and Recovery of the Lost Confederate Submarine, p. 1081; May 15, 2004, George Cohen, review of Ghost Ship: The Mysterious True Story of the Mary Celeste and Her Missing Crew, p. 1592; September 1, 2006, George Cohen, review of When the Dancing Stopped: The Real Story of the Morro Castle Disaster and Its Deadly Wake, p. 41.
Entertainment Weekly, June 4, 2004, review of Ghost Ship, p. 86; October 27, 2006, Ben Spier, review of When the Dancing Stopped, p. 75.
Journal of Southern History, November, 2003, John F. Guilmartin, Jr., review of Raising the Hunley, p. 932.
Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2002, review of Raising the Hunley, p. 30; April 15, 2004, review of Ghost Ship, p. 375; August 15, 2006, review of When the Dancing Stopped, p. 822.
Library Journal, March 1, 2002, Charles K Piehl, review of Raising the Hunley, p. 118.
Publishers Weekly, January 21, 2002, review of Raising the Hunley, p. 82; May 3, 2004, review of Ghost Ship, p. 182; August 14, 2006, review of When the Dancing Stopped, p. 194.
Reference & Research Book News, February 1, 2007, review of When the Dancing Stopped.
School Library Journal, September, 2004, Ted Woodcock, review of Ghost Ship, p. 236.
Sea Power, May, 2003, Sherry L. Gardner, review of Raising the Hunley, p. 50.
United States Naval Institute Proceedings, October, 2004, Richard Seamon, review of Ghost Ship, p. 87.