In one of the most exciting adventure stories of our time, Gary Kinder combines maritime disaster with visionary underwater technology. In September 1857, the SS Central America, a side-wheel steamer carrying passengers returning from the gold fields of California, went down during a hurricane off the Carolina coast. It would be the worst peacetime disaster at sea in American history, claiming more than 400 lives and 21 tons of gold. In the 1980s a maverick engineer named Tommy Thompson set out to find the wreck of the Central America and salvage its treasure from the ocean floor. With nail-biting suspense, Kinder reconstructs the terror of the Central America's last days, when passengers bailed sea water from the hold, then chopped up the ship's timbers to use as impromptu life rafts before being cast into the sea themselves. He goes on to chronicle Thompson's epic quest for the lost vessel, an enterprise marked by hair-raising weather, the hostility of the deep ocean at 8,000 feet, highly experimental technology, and unscrupulous rival treasure-hunters. The result is a magnificent tale, filled with heroism, entrepreneurialism, and perseverance.