Fire on the Beach: Recovering the Lost Story of Richard Etheridge and the Pea Island Lifesavers

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9780195154849: Fire on the Beach: Recovering the Lost Story of Richard Etheridge and the Pea Island Lifesavers
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Fire on the Beach recovers the heroic, long-forgotten story of the only all-black crew in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard. In 1871 the Life-Saving Service, the precursor to the Coast Guard, was created by Congress to assure the safe passage of American and international shipping and to save lives and salvage cargo. Although it was decommissioned in 1915, a century ago the LSS boasted some two hundred stations, and the adventures of the now forgotten "surfmen" filled the pages of popular reading, from Harper's to the Baltimore Sun to the New York Herald.

This book tells the story of Station 17 of Pea Island, North Carolina, and its courageous captain, Richard Etheridge. A former slave and Civil War veteran, Etheridge was appointed Keeper of the Pea Island station, but when the white crew already in place refused to serve under him, he recruited and trained an entirely black crew. Although they were among the most courageous in the service, leading many daring rescues and saving scores of men, women, and children along the treacherous stretch of coast known as "the Graveyard of the Atlantic," civilian attitudes toward the Pea Island surfmen ranged from curiosity to outrage. When a hurricane hit the Banks in the late 1890s, they managed to save everyone aboard the wrecked E.S. Newman. This incredible feat went unrecognized for a century until, in 1996, the Coast Guard posthumously awarded Etheridge and his men the Gold Life-Saving Medal.

This courageous story of a group of men who battled prejudice as well as fierce storms to carry out heroic deeds illustrates yet another example of the contribution of one group of remarkable African Americans to this country's history.

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Fire on the Beach is a wonderful book on a forgotten piece of history: The story of an all-black unit of the U.S. Life-Saving Service on North Carolina's "beautiful and unforgiving" Outer Banks. Stationed on Pea Island, near the hazardous "Graveyard of the Atlantic," the men of the segregated Station 17 showed that African Americans were just as capable as their white peers when it came to saving the lives of sailors and passengers whose ships foundered on deadly shoals. Their leader was Richard Etheridge, an inspiring figure born into slavery. He fought during the Civil War and later entered the LSS. Much of the book is a reconstruction of his life, and Civil War buffs will appreciate the extensive treatment given to his military service.

Yet Fire on the Beach is not a mere biography. It's a fascinating portrait of 19th-century Outer Banks culture, long before these isolated little towns became tourist destinations. Authors David Wright and David Zoby, for instance, describe "wreckers" whose main occupation--a surprisingly profitable one--was combing the beach for the detritus of shipwrecks. The town of Nags Head apparently derives its odd name from this weird heritage: "Many claim that the name Nags Head originated in an era when malicious wreckers would tie a lantern around an old horse's neck and lead it up and down the dunes. From the sea, the rising and falling light would give the impression of a ship safely moored in a harbor, taunting unsuspecting ship captains to sail to their destructions." Even without these manmade deceptions, the seas off the coast of North Carolina were plenty treacherous, giving Etheridge and his men lots of rescue work. Race is a necessary and fundamental theme of the book, and Etheridge knew he would have to defy white skeptics by proving his abilities over and over: "There was no room for error. The continuation of the black station could be compromised by any slipup, no matter how slight. Misjudgment or poor performance could result in his or one of his crewmen's dismissal. Inadequacies, no matter how slight, could lead to the reinstatement of a white keeper and crew. They had to excel if they were to maintain their station." Fire on the Beach ultimately rises above the parochialism of race: It is a gripping story about "a man among the men" and his harrowing exploits. When Wright and Zoby describe Etheridge's role in saving the crew of the schooner E.S. Newman in hurricane conditions, the skin color of Etheridge and his men does not matter at all. Fans of The Perfect Storm and Isaac's Storm--books that mix thrilling sea stories with calamitous weather--are sure to enjoy Fire on the Beach. --John Miller

About the Author:


David Wright is Assistant Professor of English and African American Studies at the University of Illinois. The recipient of the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Award, he has written for The Southern Review, The Kenyon Review, and the African American Review.

David Zoby teaches at Casper College in Wyoming. His work has appeared in The Southern Poetry Review, the Georgia State Review, and elsewhere.

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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2002. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Fire on the Beach recovers the heroic, long-forgotten story of the only all-black crew in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard. In 1871 the Life-Saving Service, the precursor to the Coast Guard, was created by Congress to assure the safe passage of American and international shipping and to save lives and salvage cargo. Although it was decommissioned in 1915, a century ago the LSS boasted some two hundred stations, and the adventures of the now forgotten surfmen filled the pages of popular reading, from Harper s to the Baltimore Sun to the New York Herald. This book tells the story of Station 17 of Pea Island, North Carolina, and its courageous captain, Richard Etheridge. A former slave and Civil War veteran, Etheridge was appointed Keeper of the Pea Island station, but when the white crew already in place refused to serve under him, he recruited and trained an entirely black crew. Although they were among the most courageous in the service, leading many daring rescues and saving scores of men, women, and children along the treacherous stretch of coast known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic, civilian attitudes toward the Pea Island surfmen ranged from curiosity to outrage. When a hurricane hit the Banks in the late 1890s, they managed to save everyone aboard the wrecked E.S. Newman. This incredible feat went unrecognized for a century until, in 1996, the Coast Guard posthumously awarded Etheridge and his men the Gold Life-Saving Medal. This courageous story of a group of men who battled prejudice as well as fierce storms to carry out heroic deeds illustrates yet another example of the contribution of one group of remarkable African Americans to this country s history. Seller Inventory # AAC9780195154849

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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2002. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Fire on the Beach recovers the heroic, long-forgotten story of the only all-black crew in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard. In 1871 the Life-Saving Service, the precursor to the Coast Guard, was created by Congress to assure the safe passage of American and international shipping and to save lives and salvage cargo. Although it was decommissioned in 1915, a century ago the LSS boasted some two hundred stations, and the adventures of the now forgotten surfmen filled the pages of popular reading, from Harper s to the Baltimore Sun to the New York Herald. This book tells the story of Station 17 of Pea Island, North Carolina, and its courageous captain, Richard Etheridge. A former slave and Civil War veteran, Etheridge was appointed Keeper of the Pea Island station, but when the white crew already in place refused to serve under him, he recruited and trained an entirely black crew. Although they were among the most courageous in the service, leading many daring rescues and saving scores of men, women, and children along the treacherous stretch of coast known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic, civilian attitudes toward the Pea Island surfmen ranged from curiosity to outrage. When a hurricane hit the Banks in the late 1890s, they managed to save everyone aboard the wrecked E.S. Newman. This incredible feat went unrecognized for a century until, in 1996, the Coast Guard posthumously awarded Etheridge and his men the Gold Life-Saving Medal. This courageous story of a group of men who battled prejudice as well as fierce storms to carry out heroic deeds illustrates yet another example of the contribution of one group of remarkable African Americans to this country s history. Seller Inventory # AAC9780195154849

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Book Description Oxford University Press. Paperback. Condition: New. 335 pages. Dimensions: 9.0in. x 6.4in. x 0.9in.Fire on the Beach recovers the heroic, long-forgotten story of the only all-black crew in the history of the U. S. Coast Guard. In 1871 the Life-Saving Service, the precursor to the Coast Guard, was created by Congress to assure the safe passage of American and international shipping and to save lives and salvage cargo. Although it was decommissioned in 1915, a century ago the LSS boasted some two hundred stations, and the adventures of the now forgotten surfmen filled the pages of popular reading, from Harpers to the Baltimore Sun to the New York Herald. This book tells the story of Station 17 of Pea Island, North Carolina, and its courageous captain, Richard Etheridge. A former slave and Civil War veteran, Etheridge was appointed Keeper of the Pea Island station, but when the white crew already in place refused to serve under him, he recruited and trained an entirely black crew. Although they were among the most courageous in the service, leading many daring rescues and saving scores of men, women, and children along the treacherous stretch of coast known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic, civilian attitudes toward the Pea Island surfmen ranged from curiosity to outrage. When a hurricane hit the Banks in the late 1890s, they managed to save everyone aboard the wrecked E. S. Newman. This incredible feat went unrecognized for a century until, in 1996, the Coast Guard posthumously awarded Etheridge and his men the Gold Life-Saving Medal. This courageous story of a group of men who battled prejudice as well as fierce storms to carry out heroic deeds illustrates yet another example of the contribution of one group of remarkable African Americans to this countrys history. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Seller Inventory # 9780195154849

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Book Description Paperback. Condition: New. Paperback. Fire on the Beach recovers the heroic, long-forgotten story of the only all-black crew in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard. In 1871 the Life-Saving Service, the precursor to the Coast G.Shipping may be from multiple locations in the US or from the UK, depending on stock availability. 352 pages. 0.531. Seller Inventory # 9780195154849

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