Synopses & Reviews
Most readers know Salem only for the citys notorious witch trials. But years later it became a very different city, one that produced Americas first millionaire (still one of historys 75 wealthiest men) and boasted a maritime trade that made it the countrys richest city. Westward expansion and the industrial revolution would eventually erode Salems political importance, but it was a shocking murder and the scandal that followed which led at last to its fall from national prominence.
Death of an Empire is a finely-written tale of a little-known but remarkably rich era of American history, drawing in characters such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, John Quincy Adams, and Daniel Webster.
“The Death of an Empire is a masterfully told story of greed, recklessness, murder, and the precipitous decline of Salem, one of young Americas greatest ports. It is a chilling tale and an excellent history, which is as fascinating as it is shocking.”
--Eric Jay Dolin, author of Fur, Fortune, and Empire and Leviathan
“Beautifully written and impeccably researched, The Death of an Empire details not only the death rattle of one of our countrys most important world ports but the growing pains of an emerging nation. Robert Booth has spun a stranger than fiction family saga set in my favorite city, a tale that will hold the reader enthralled.”
--Brunonia Barry, author of The Lace Reader
“A fascinating exploration of the dark side of Salem's maritime history, which includes drug peddling, slave trading and murder. The mercantile glory so often contrasted with the shame of Salem's witch trials is here shown to be as equally underpinned as that dark episode by hypocrisy, ruthlessness and greed."
--Frances Hill, author of A Delusion of Satan
"A complex and well-researched yarn, Death of an Empire chronicles the little-known history of this relatively brief period of wealth and good fortune for a Massachusetts seafaring center, along with its economic downfall amid the rise of industrialization in the United States. It also recounts a lethal conspiracy and scandal that robbed Salem of whatever remaining luster was left after the citys golden age. Booth, a local historian - and sometime lobsterman - grew up in Marblehead and knows the territory of which he writes with authority."
--The Boston Globe
"Booth has reconstructed in astonishing detail not only the Salem of Hawthorne, Joseph Story, and Daniel Webster but also true Heart of Darkness moments from all corners of the globe."
"This is a readable, even gripping account of the consequences of the economic decline of a once proud city. Recommended for fans of accessible history and historical true crime."
About the Author
ROBERT BOOTHs guidebook Bostons Freedom Trail
has been in print for twenty-five years and he has contributed to the anthology Salem: Place, Myth & Memory.
He is curator emeritus of the Pickering House in Salem and serves on the boards of several history organizations. He lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts.