The Black Tanker – January 1, 1941. Howard Pease.
This was the first novel about the sea and life on merchant ships I read a a kid in the 7th grade.
The price of the *Black Tanker * seems a bit off the charts as it and his other books have never been digitized (I assume).
There was also C.S. Forrester’s Hornblower, Guy Gilpatric’s Glenncanon series, and Douglas Reeman’s (aka Alexander Kent) Bolitho series. And now even more period naval novels than ever have sprouted up, but few if any about merchant ships.
The Western Limit of the World by David Masiel is a Conrad like dark tale about a twisted Bosun which takes place on a stolen tanker.
The Mathews Men - William Geroux
Excellent book about a dying breed. Sailed with or ran into a number of them over the years. Not many Mathews men going to sea anymore.
“The Key” (already mentioned but a booger to edit an edit-sorry)
Away All Boats, book far better than the movie. Good stuff.
I’ve just finished reading Leona J Thomas Through Ice and Fire. An account of her father’s experience as an engine room oiler on Russian Convoys constructed from his diaries. His mention of finding debris from another ship that blew up on the forecastle of his ship made me stop and think.
They decided that if they were torpedoed they hoped that they would be picked up by a US ship so they could get fed. The food was absolutely terrible.
I definitely second ICE BROTHERS!
Two good un’s I just read are “The Captain” by Jan de Haartog, and “90% of Everything” by Rose George.
Good book. It summarizes the reason many men went into the MMS at that time. Of course most were not from Mathews County but shared the same experience. Some had some experiences in their past that wouldn’t allow them to be drafted or enlist but still decided to roll the dice on merchant ships knowing their chances to survive were not great but, what the heck, it was a pay check to send home. US maritime service allowed all ages of folks to man ships. I remember my Dad telling me he served with guys 60+ years old who had never been on a ship but they did their best and after a couple of trips across the Atlantic were reassuring Navy lads assigned with them.
The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk
I’ll also add Liberty on the Waterfront by Paul A. Gilje.
Fascinating look into life in the American Merchant Marine and Navy between the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. Goes into a lot of interesting detail about life aboard the ships, wages, duties and hardships of the era.
One of the tugs in the story was the Foundation Lillian. From 1954 to the early 2000’s she was the Haida Chieftain and towed the Haida Carrier an early self-dumping log barge. History of tug Haida Chieftain.
To keep it light, I just started reading “Meow Man” It’s a hoot. He claims these are fictional characters.but I feel as I know some mentioned. A small world we live in.
That guy is a riot. . . .
A book about the shenanigans in shipping:
Another, about Piracy in S.E.Asia: