In the tradition of Nathaniel Philbrick's bestselling In the Heart of the Sea, Joe Jackson's, 'A Furnace Afloat' tells of the American clipper ship Hornet, which went down in flames, casting its crew adrift for forty-three days on the open ocean. Along with the stories of the Bounty and the whaleship Essex, the Hornet disaster was once one of the country's most infamous naval disasters. Over the years, a handful of famous shipwrecks have become symbols of something greater, their accounts a floating opera of sudden disaster, wasted life, and privations endured by survivors. One of these was the 1866 saga of the clipper ship Hornet, the crew of which barely survived for six weeks on ten days' worth of rations and shoe leather, drifting 4,300 miles in a single lifeboat as they all slowly weakened and became delirious or mad. The American clipper ship Hornet left her homeport of New York City on January 15, 1866, and embarked on what was considered a routine voyage to San Francisco around Cape Horn. She enjoyed an exceptionally smooth passage until the morning of May 3, when the ship ghosted gently a thousand miles west of the Galápagos Islands. On that day, the first mate went below to draw some varnish from a cask and accidentally set the cask afire. Within minutes, the entire ship was engulfed.