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Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Review: East of Farewell by E. Howard Hunt

E. Howard Hunt. Now there's a name that brings back memories. And not particularly pleasant ones as a member of the “plumbers.” On the other hand, he served in the Navy during WW II on destroyers and as this book was written in 1942 while he was out there living the book.

It takes place on a destroyer on convoy duty. Each chapter is preceded by a short italicized section on preparing the ship, following by perspectives from members of the crew, each with a short bio. While clearly fictional, I suspect the characters had considerable basis from his experience.

Blacks had no place except as servants to the officers. Their world was “yessuh,” no matter whether they were seasick or had other difficulties. The captain was angry because their ship hosted the commodore who second guessed his every move. Others had come from farms. All felt the drudgery.

And I never realized until I went to sea how much you can hate something that you can’t beat … something that wins over you whenever you’re tired … something that won’t let you rest … where there is never anything but the feel of the spray and the shock of the waves and the blackness of night and the fog-gray days and always the sea. Always the sea and the tearing wind and no place ever to lie still while your heart pounds with the feel of the sea and your brain is tight with the smell of the sea and your belly is hollow with the fear of it, and always the ship goes on through the night and the days that are not day.

The theme and writing reminded me a little of Alistair MacLean. If you enjoy nautical fiction, you will like this book. Not up to Marley Mowat, or Herman Wouk, but good enough and of historical interest since it was written during the war it portrays.
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