THE BARQUE OF SAVIORS: Eagle's Passage from the Nazi Navy to the U.S. Coast Guard

Russell Drumm, Author . Houghton Mifflin $25 (250p) ISBN 978-0-395-98367-6

Drumm, senior writer at the East Hampton Star, chronicles some of the "hidden" history of the U.S. Coast Guard's three-masted sailing ship Eagle, currently serving as a training vessel and oft visited by dignitaries for photo ops. The Eagle was originally named the Horst Wessel and was launched in 1936 at a German shipyard, with Adolf Hitler and the chief Nazis of the party present. It served as a training ship for German seamen and officers, many of whom went on to careers in U-boats during WWII. The ship barely survived the war and was taken by the Coast Guard as part of America's share of the former German navy. Derelict but still served by a skeleton crew of emaciated survivors, the ship proved a fertile ground for friendship, as the Coast Guard brought the German crew to health, and a mixed crew eventually sailed across the Atlantic to U.S. port. Drumm accompanied Eagle on a 1999 voyage to the Caribbean. His book interweaves a hardcore sailing history of this stalwart vessel with a dense account of the 1999 voyage. Along the way, the reader becomes familiar with the cadets of various eras, with an obvious focus on WWII. Sea buffs are the primary audience here ("Captain Cummings ordered that Eagle's t'gallants be put 'in their gear,' clewed up but not furled, and the mizen gaff topsail doused, along with several staysails"), but the book also offers a rare look at postwar military cooperation and at the integration of female cadets beginning in the 1970s. (Nov. 16)

Reviewed on: 10/22/2001
Release date: 11/01/2001
Paperback - 274 pages - 978-1-4392-2219-5
Open Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-547-79981-0
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