The Gulf of Mexico presents a compelling, salt-streaked narrative of the earth's tenth largest body of water. In this beautifully written volume, John S. Sledge explores the people, ships, and cities that have made the Gulf's human history and culture so rich. Many famous figures who sailed the Gulf's viridian waters are highlighted, including Ponce de León, Robert Cavelier de La Salle, Francis Drake, Elizabeth Agassiz, Ernest Hemingway, and Charles Dwight Sigsbee. Sledge also introduces a fascinating array of people connected to maritime life in the Gulf, among them Maya priests, French pirates, African American stevedores, and Greek sponge divers.
Gulf events of global historical importance are detailed, such as the only defeat of armed and armored steamships by wooden sailing vessels, the first accurate deep-sea survey and bathymetric map of any ocean basin, the development of shipping containers by a former truck driver frustrated with antiquated loading practices, and the worst environmental disaster in American annals.
Occasionally shifting focus ashore, Sledge explains how people representing a gumbo of ethnicities built some of the world's most exotic cities—Havana, New Orleans, and oft-besieged Veracruz, Mexico's oldest city, founded in 1519 by Hernán Cortés.