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The tale of adventure begins as the custom-built Faraday sets sail in May 1874 to lay the cable and ends when the telegraph line begins operations. Between these bookends is a long tale of hardship, setbacks, and frustration. At the time, almost nothing was known about conditions on the ocean floor, for example. It also was not known whether the material would withstand the tremendous pressure on the cable at ocean depths of up to 5,000 meters and whether the electrical current across the 3,000 kilometers separating Europe and North America would remain uninterrupted. Reasonably accurate weather forecasts were similarly unobtainable. And if that weren’t already enough uncertainty and risk, there was also the concern of what would happen if the cable were to break along the way.
So it was a great technical and nautical adventure: the men on board the cable-laying steamship had to brave such challenges as ill weather and violent storms, a torn cable, the alleged sinking of the Faraday, repeated interruptions of work and returns to port, and the difficulties of retrieving the transmission cable from the ocean floor. The two CDs not only relate the dramatic events on board the ship but also flash back to what occurred before the actual laying of the cable. Background information on the technical, economic, and financial conditions complete the picture.
Any newly laid telegraph line was a pioneering act at that time and came at great economic risk. This is clearly demonstrated by the fact that from the time the American businessmen first asked Siemens to lay a direct German-American cable that would be independent of the Anglo American Telegraph Company monopoly until the ship finally set sail, some three years elapsed. Years in which the brothers were not always of one mind in the planning, financing, and implementation of the project. Even while the cable was being laid, there were enough situations that sorely tested their faith in the project’s success – as numerous letters preserved in Corporate Archives make clear.
The audio book draws upon these letters and the wires that the Siemens brothers exchanged in the 1870s. The dialog between Werner, William, and Carl von Siemens is taken word for word from the correspondence of the three brothers about the project. They clearly show that – despite all the tensions and conflict – their belief in the quality and usefulness of their work was critical for the success of this pioneering achievement.
The audio book “Europe calling America. Three brothers, the ocean & a cable” includes two CDs (114 minutes) and a 32-page booklet with a wealth of information and illustrations. It is available in bookstores or directly from Campfire Media, ISBN 978-3-00-039685-4.