I just finished reading Stephen Chapin Kinnaman's The Most Perfect Cruiser. I was asked to review this book for the Nautical Research Journal. This will be the third review I've written for that journal in the past 18 months (previously having reviewed biographies of John Paul Jones and Gustavas Vasa Fox).
I have to admit that I was very skeptical about this book from the outset. I had never heard of Dog Ear Publishing, so I did a little research. I assumed they were a vanity press, but found out that the company actually is just a self-publishing organization. They will publish any manuscript for anyone, and have varying packages depending on how much the author wishes to pay. This fed my skepticism even more. However, aside from some flaws that I attribute to the publishing process, this book isn't really all that bad. In fact, I was impressed with the author's focus, clarity, and research. Rather than simply relating the exploits of the CSS Alabama (I mean, do we really need another one of those books?), the author focuses on the construction of the vessel, and secondarily, other Confederate vessels in England. The book deals mainly with politics, logistics, and personalities. It really is a quite pleasant and engaging book to read.
The aforementioned flaws include a number of typos, an often too conversational style to the narrative, and other simple stuff like that, as well as a non-professional endnote style (but at least it has endnotes!). This book could have been published by any number of presses with a little reformatting and better editing. While not an academic jewel, it's still worth a read.