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The largest portion of the book is taken up with detailed accounts of horrific steamboat accidents involving boiler explosions, collisions with other ships, capsizing, and damage from river detritus. In one instance he records a conflagration that consumed twenty-three steamboats in New Orleans in 1849. It reads extremely well and a modern equivalent might be 1955 classic, “A Night to Remember” about Titanic, only with scores of wrecks instead of one.