AFTER THE STORM: True Stories of Disaster and Recovery at Sea

John Rousmaniere, Author, Rousmaniere John, Author . McGraw-Hill/ International Marine $24.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-07-137795-9

In his latest, Rousmaniere (Fastnet, Force 10; The Annapolis Book of Seamanship) reconstructs 12 tales of sea wrecks and near-misses from captains' logs and eyewitnesses, which are as sad as they are compelling to read. The poet Shelley's romance with the sea (and his life) comes to an end from careless sailing and a black squall; an African-American church congregation is decimated when the side-wheeler Portland rolls in Massachusetts Bay; during the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, sailors of the supply ship Pollux teeter between heroism and madness while their ship breaks apart on a rocky shelf. But as the title indicates, this book is more than a simple curio of casualty. Having survived his own brush with a watery death in 1979, Rousmaniere arrays in these remarkable stories a study of the reactions to sudden calamity, be they acts of sheer heroism, mute observation or a helpless slide into panic, and the lasting misfortune of those who survive the dead. The book is not without religious overtones, and peppered throughout are insightful digressions into biography, literary criticism and the composition of popular hymns. At once ominously desperate and unerringly hopeful, this book is a wise, generous read. Photos and maps not seen by PW. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/15/2002
Release date: 04/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
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