Gordon Bennett and the First Yacht Race Across the Atlantic
The 1866 transatlantic yacht race was a match that saw three yachts battle their way across the Atlantic in the dead of winter in pursuit of a $90,000 prize. Six men died in the brutal and close-fought contest, and the event changed the perception of yachting from a slightly effete gentlemen's pursuit into something altogether more rugged and adventurous. The race also symbolized the beginning of America's 'gilded age', with its associated obscene wealth and largesse (the $90,000 prize put up by the three contestants is about $15 million in today's money), as well as the thawing of relations between the US and UK.
Using the framework of the race to discuss the various historical themes, there's ample drama, and the diverse and eccentric range of characters ensure that this is a book laced with plenty of human interest, scandal, and adventure.
By Sam Jefferson. Published by Adlard Coles; Reprint edition, 2017. 288 pages, softcover.