A Thread across the Ocean: The Heroic Story of the Transatlantic Cable

By Levinson, Martin H. | et Cetera, Fall 2003 | Go to article overview

A Thread across the Ocean: The Heroic Story of the Transatlantic Cable


Levinson, Martin H., et Cetera


John Steele Gordon. A Thread Across the Ocean: The Heroic Story of the Transatlantic Cable. New York: Walker, 2002.

In 1866 the Old and New World were united by the successful laying of a telegraph cable across the Atlantic Ocean. According to Sir Arthur C. Clarke this feat was "the Victorian equivalent of the Apollo project."

The idea for the scheme began in 1854 when a young New York entrepreneur, Cyrus Field, became enamored with the idea of laying a 2,000 mile long telegraph cable across the Atlantic between Ireland and Newfoundland. At that time it typically took as long as a month for news to travel by ship from Europe to America. Field believed oceanic telegraphy would be commercially viable and quickly raised money for the project. It took him twelve years and five failed attempts to succeed.

The book is a testament to the energy and conviction of Cyrus Field, who grew up with a father who instilled in him the notion that, "To know is a thing which pleaseth talkers and boasters; but to do is that which pleaseth God." Armed with this advice, Field single-mindedly put together money, faith, dogged perseverance, motivation, and a bit of good luck to ultimately triumph in his cable venture. …

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