The greatest strength of this volume is in the storytelling. [Hughes] brings the ship to life and explores that maritime life in a way reminiscent of the standard set by John Keegan…. He also makes the bigger connection that the operations of the Shenandoah were really asymmetrical warfare against a superior enemy, just on the water…. His main thesis [is] that the officers were a microcosm of Southern society, carrying that society far away from home. (Jeffery Seymour, The National Civil War Naval Museum and Columbus State University. Taylor & Francis Online Journal: History: Reviews of New Books Vol. 45, Iss. 5, 2017.)
"[A Confederate Biography] is truly a standout. Accessible to the non-expert in things maritime, it illuminates how ships of that time functioned, what it took to work them, and the variety of cultures that blended to accomplish it. The author, coming himself from a life at sea, speaks from inside the experience and his descriptive gifts for exploring the sights, sounds, and feelings of the life at sea bring you aboard and make you part of the voyage. In this respect, it has more of the intimate feel of a movie than a formal documentary, which is welcome and fulfilling from page to page, keeping you involved with the life inside while still aware of the history simultaneously going on aboard ship and around the globe."
(The International Journal of Maritime History, 2016, Vol. 28(4))
"This trove of [extensive archival] data represents detail that Hughes has expertly organized and woven into a well-crafted and engrossing narrative.... It is an engaging narrative that is packed with historical information; it is well-paced and a good read from cover to cover…. A Confederate Biography: The Cruise of the CSS Shenandoah is at once a pleasurable and enlightening reading experience."
(Maritime Archaeological and Historical Society, MAHSNEWS, Fall 2016)
"Dwight Hughes, a Naval Academy graduate and a retired naval officer, has well told this compelling story of men against the sea and against tremendous odds of success.... Battling gales in the South Atlantic or North Pacific, getting stuck in Arctic ice, swooping down on unsuspecting victims, or conducting the humdrum but inherently dangerous activities of a ship under sail, the men of the Shenandoah put it all in writing, and Hughes has faithfully reproduced it here. The Shenandoah’s story has been presented in print several times before but never better than in this Naval Institute publication."
(The Journal of America’s Military Past, Spring/Summer 2016, p. 106)
"The author blends a number of personal accounts of the Shenandoah's voyage to produce a great read." (Military Heritage Magazine, July 2016)
"This is one of the best and most interesting of [Shenandoah] books. It describes the vessel, its crew--particularly its officers--and, most importantly, its symbolism for the Confederacy exceptionally well. The personalization of the officers tells the reader much more about the ship and its voyaging than any previous account this reviewer has come across."
(AUSMARINE Magazine, April 2016)
"Hughes' sources are impressive and he uses them to good effect.... Helpful is a world map of Shenandoah’s odyssey with the locations and dates of her captures, her sail and builder’s plans, and many contemporary photos and prints of people and places. A Confederate Biography is a good read for naval historians, American Civil War buffs, and armchair admirals alike."
(The Northern Mariner/Le marine du nord, April 2016)
"Hughes is very adept at describing the workings of the ship, and clearly explains nautical terms perhaps not familiar to the typical reader. His descriptions of shipboard life and the pros and cons of such a close living and working relationship are both thorough and vivid.... Recommended for public, general, and undergraduate libraries."
(Association of College and Research Libraries)
"Hughes provides an excellent account of CSS Shenandoah that is easily understood by historians and lay audiences alike.... A Confederate Biography is an excellent look at an interesting slice of the Civil War."
(Naval Historical Foundation)
"This is a book for both those who dream of a life at seas and those who grow green in the face with even the thought of an ocean’s breeze. For the latter, there are excellent cross-details of the ship so that they do not become lost in the jargon of 19th-century naval warfare. Hughes’ work is a solid effort into the Shenandoah’s famed voyage and his last point of the book certainly proves true:
'The ship and men deserve to be remembered'"
(Emerging Civil War book review)
"A fascinating saga of the far-flung fringes of the Civil War, A Confederate Biography will captivate scholarly historians and lay readers alike, and is a choice pick for public and college library collections."
(Midwest Book Review)
"Anyone with an interest in commerce raiding, the Confederate navy, and the American Civil War will find A Confederate Biography a revealing account of the ship and her crew."
(Pirates and Privateers)