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Iron Thunder
Hyperion, 2007
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Iron Thunder: The Battle Between the Monitor & the Merimac

When his father is killed fighting for the Union in the War Between the States, thirteen-year-old Tom Carroll must take a job to help support his family. He manages to find work at a bustling ironworks in his hometown of Brooklyn, New York, where dozens of men are frantically pounding together the strangest ship Tom has ever seen. A ship made of iron. Tom soon learns that the Union army has very important plans for this iron ship called the Monitor. It is supposed to fight the Confederate “sea monster”—another ironclad, the Merimac. But almost no one believes the Monitor will float!

Meanwhile, Tom’s job at the ironworks has made him a target of Confederate spies who offer him money for information about the ship. Tom finds himself caught between two certain dangers: an encounter with murderous spies and a battle at sea in an iron coffin… .

Story Behind the Story

If you enjoy reading history—as I do—it’s easy to also develop a fascination for the things, the artifacts of history. Napoleon’s hat. Jane Austin’s tea cup. Museums provide much of that, illustrated biographies add more, and there are books with titles such asĀ The History of World War One in One Hundred Objects. I just purchasedĀ A History of American Sports in One Hundred Objectsfor one of my sons.

Over the years I’ve come to know that young people, boys in particular, are fascinated by things, too, whether it be a Colt revolver, or Benjamin Franklin’s eye-glasses.

It was these kinds of interests that led me to create what I hoped would be a series called I Witness. The notion was to write historical fiction with as much accuracy as I could, and insert a young person into that reality. Then I would have the book illustrated with historical documents—pictures of things—old painting and etchings—to illuminate the story. read more

Awards and Honors

Publishers Weekly, 2007, starred review
Banks Street Best Books of the Year, 2008
Beacon of Liberty Award, 2008, nominee
William Allen White Children's Book Award, 2009, nominee


Publishers Weekly:

“The spectacular clash with the Merrimac caps this intense and action-packed account of a battle that changed the course of naval warfare. Illustrated with period engravings, this is gripping historical fiction from a keenly imagined perspective.”


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