Jampoler chronicles the first and only U.S. naval expedition to the Dead Sea. Led by Lt. William F. Lynch, the expedition’s scientific objectives were to circumnavigate the sea, collect mineral samples and determine its absolute elevation below sea level.
Another goal was to show the flag and boost the image of the young U.S. Navy. Lynch took two boats filled with sailors from the Sea of Galilee, down the twisting 150-mile Jordan River with its 27 sets of “threatening” rapids, to the lifeless Dead Sea itself.
The story is told in delicious detail. We learn how, back home, Lynch’s marriage is disintegrating while he adventures in Palestine. We see how parallel, successive expeditions, undertaken some years before by an Irish theology student and by a British royal engineer, ended in their tragic deaths.
Lynch was the first to accurately determine the Dead Sea’s water level – some 1,300 feet below sea level at that time. As for Sodom and Gomorrah, well, the lieutenant searched for the legendary cities. Let’s just say that to the present day, the locations of the two famed cities of sin have never been absolutely determined.
In this wonderfully told account of a fascinating chapter of American history, Andrew Jampoler has made a distinct contribution to a little-known period.
Sailors in the Holy Land is a most engaging book, highly readable and thoroughly researched.Mr. Jampoler has added important biographical information about William F. Lynch, and he has done so insightfully and sympathetically.Giving his story a broad social context, Mr. Jampoler has expanded and clarified our understanding of Lynch’s aspirations, frustrations, and achievement. Lynch now occupies a place in a more fully described social and historical context, and our understanding of the history of America’s relationship to the Holy Land is enriched by this work.— Barbara Kreiger
Books by Barbara Kreiger
The Dead Sea
Sailors in the Holy Land tells the fascinating story of one of the most improbable operations ever mounted by the U.S. Navy: a voyage of discovery to the Dead Sea. A meticulously researched account of an expedition that combined science and religion in a way that still speaks to us today.