Sea History 106 - Winter 2003-2004

Page 43

After the Storm: True Stories of Disaster and Recovery at Sea, by Jo hn Rousmaniere (Internation al Marine/M cG raw- HilJ, New York, 2002, 282pp, i!Jus, notes, biblio, index, ISBN 0-07- 137795 -6; $24. 95hc) After the Storm is an ambitio us and profound book, with a center of graviry far removed fro m the journalistic hype of much storm w riting. In this sense the subtitle may mislead readers into thinking ir is simply ano ther addition to the shelves of books anthologizing a!J kinds of disasters at sea. The book as a whole is mu ch more than its parts, much deeper than its surface descriptions. The key wo rd in its title is "after. " Rousmaniere's wide-ranging com exrs enrich and so metim es am aze, bur always throw light on rhe book's cem er, precisely represenred by the first word of the title. Like a ston e thrown into a po nd, storms create but do not exhaust rhe meaning of their rippl es . As surface evenrs, they have beginnings and endings, crises and resolu tions, successes and failures for th e men and wo m en subj ected to their wrath . Starting with the premise that major sto rms are lifealrerin g evem s, he tracks rheir after-effects rele ntlessly and thoughtfully. H e himself survived a storm rhat he docum enred in Fastnet, Force 10. Thar storm drowned fifteen sailors during rhe 1958 Fastnet Race and had implications that even Ro usmaniere was no t aware of when he wrote rhe first accounr, ultimately sending him to rheological seminary. That search fo r the human meaning of storms is rh e co re of this book. T he book as a whole has shape, giving it valuable uni ry, rare in any collection of narratives. The ran ge in time and locatio n is great, but each story fits inro a mosaic with patterns of co ntinui ry. T hey a!J address rhe same questi o n: W hat is th e human meaning of storms-metaphysical and ontological- and how do they transform lives? John Rousmaniere has mo re than 35,000 miles of blue-water ex perience in sailing vessels. So it is no t surprising that he draws wisdom from thi s fund of ocean


experience and medi tates upo n it, fulfilling Melvill e's remark that meditatio n and the sea are wedded toge ther fo rever. H e writes with the precision necessary fo r seamanship and simultaneously inco rpo rates a wide range of allusions, giving us prose that is both clean and thought-provo king. I haven't enjoyed reading a nautical book so much sin ce Jo nathan Raban's Passage to Juneau, which has sim ilar li terary qualities. For me, that means After the Storm 1s wo rth readin g again . ROBERT FOULKE Lake George, New Yo rk

Admirals in the Age of Nelson , by Lee Bi enkowski (Naval ln sti tu te Press, Ann apolis, MD , 2003, 294pp, i!Jus, notes, biblio, index, glossary, ISBN 15575 0-002-9; $36.95 hc) T he British Navy's greates t age of fi ghting sail was durin g th e French Wars (1 793- 18 15), which produced a number of notable admi rals. Lee Bienkowski focuses on the lives and acco mplishmem s of eleven significant British fl ag officers that served as co mmanders- in -chi ef. T he well-docum ented life of H orati o N elson is no t included. Instead, Bienkowski focuses upon men in Nelso n's shadow who have not been adequately studied . T he author portrays these men who disrin guished themselves, so me by tacti cal brilli ance under fire and o thers who achieved victori es because of the power of their fo rces, mediocriry of their foes, and /o r new naval tactics they employed. In additi on she provides an extensive view of British naval history. More than a collectio n of individual biographies, this scholarl y wo rk provides insight into how the Royal Navy and these influential perso naliti es mutuall y affected one ano ther. T he autho r makes liberal use of primary material supplemented by carefully selected secondary so urce m aterial. Combined with her Aowing writing sryle, Ms. Bi enkowski 's well-researched effort is a significanr contribution to maritime histori cal literature. LOU IS ARTHUR NO RTON West Simsbury, Co nnecticut

The Coast Guard in Wo rld Wti r l An Untold Story, by Al ex R. Larzelere (Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD , 256pp, illus, notes, biblio, index, ISBN 1-5575 0476-8; $36 .95hc) T his book covers the transfer of th e US Coast G uard fro m the Treasury Department to the Navy D epartmenr in 19 J 7 because of the decla ration of wa r against Ge rm any. The USCG was created by a 19 15 legislation that co mbined the Revenue C utter Service and the Life Saving Service, plus requ ired th e newly-fo rm ed orga ni za tion to serve as a mili ta ry service and as part of the navy durin g wa rtime. The cooperation and coordin atio n between the Navy and Coast G uard are covered in detail. They in cl ude Coast G uard manning and operatio n of naval vessels, naval personnel likewise serving on USCG ships, Coas t Guard cutters esco rting convoys, the seizure of enemy shi ps by USCG perso nnel, po rt securi ry, and other du ties . T he lessons lea rn ed by bo th the Coast G uard and th e Navy produced an amazing capaciry to gain the m ost from both o rganizations since 19 17. T his sharing of abiliti es, hardware, and perso nnel has been critical in the 1920s Ru m War, Wo rld War II , Korea, Vietn am and most recentl y in th e Persian G ulf. T hose who have served in the Coast G uard in these later events wi!J recognize their ties to the pas t from the detailed repo rtin g of the events of 19 15 to 191 9. Captain Larzelere has given us an excellent view of the pas t that we may better understand the present. D AV ID E. PERKJNS Sebring, Florida

Launching History: The Saga of the Burrard Dry Dock, by Francis Mansbridge (H arbour Publishing Co., Ltd., M adeira Park, BC, Canada, 2002, 226pp, illus, notes, appen, biblio, index, ISBN 1-55 01 7280-8; $3 9. 95 hc)

Launching History: The Saga of the Burrard D ry Dock covers the foundin g of a small shipya rd in No rth Vancouve r, British Columbi a, whi ch grew into the largest shipyard in Canada. Founded by Al41