Author: Robert Frump
Started: 24 Jan 2009
Finished: 9 May 2009
341 p / 106 d
So, I finally got around to reading this book... by someone I know, by a person I used to work for... Now, it took three copies of the book to get this far. I think my first was the hardcover, and I'm pretty sure I had it signed by Bob. But during one of my moves it got stuck in storage. Now, eventually I got to one of Bob's OTHER books in my reading pile, but then realized I hadn't read this one yet, so I ordered a copy of the paperback. Then I got about a quarter of the way through it, and accidentally put it into a backpack full of some markers and a bottle of water with a loose cap... result, book with blue pages. Now, it dried, and I kept reading it for awhile longer. Then, I lost it. I didn't know where it was. I waited a few weeks for it to turn up. When it didn't, I ordered a third copy. Of course, days after the third copy arrived, I found the second copy... but I finished reading using the third copy, since it wasn't blue.
Anyway, the book itself... I didn't know what to expect, not having read any of Bob's books before.
This is basically the story of a marine disaster, and the investigations which followed, eventually leading to some reforms in the American Merchant Marine fleet. The first part of the book is the tale of the sinking of the Marine Electric. Bob draws out the stories of not just the crew aboard the ship, but their families as well. As the story unfolds, he brings in stories of earlier incidents as well. At times these can be very poignant. After this, the book transitions into the drama of the investigations into what happened, basically indicting most of the American Merchant Marine industry, and the government agencies that regulated it for extremely lax safety practices.
Bob tells a compelling story and pulls you through the events. And teaches you a bit as you go. I certainly didn't know any of this history before I read the book. :-) If there were two things I would say on the flip side... one would be that by the fourth or fifth time there was a "but this was not the first time this had happened, there was also the case of the SS Magoo in 1953" I could almost hear Wayne and Garth doing the little sparkly back in time memory thing... and second would be that when I read "In a conversation with the former Philadelphia Enquirer reporter..." I am not fooled. I know that is you Bob. Might as well break out the first person at some point. :-)
Anyway, good interesting book on a topic I have not read about in the past. I look forward to... eventually... catching up on Bob's other books as well.
[2009 Dec 5 20:18 UTC - Fixed typo in start date]