Out of the Fog The Sinking of the Andrea Doria


Nov 12, 2000
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the book is Out of the Fog, The Sinking of the Andrea Doria by Algot Mattsson, translated into English by Richard E. Fisher, and edited by Gordon W. & Bruce G. Paulsen.

The first thing that strikes me about this book is the unintended irony of the title. Out of the Fog delivers up a smokescreen of information that completely obliterates a balanced look at the events surrounding the collision between the Italian luxury liner Andrea Doria and the Swedish passenger ship, the Stockholm.

How unbalanced? Well, according to this book, the Stockholm was completely innocent in the event, the fault lies completely with the officers on the Andrea Doria. Even better is the accusation that it was the Andrea Doria that hit the Stockholm! This is legal maneuvering at its best. It’s sort of like my punching you in the face and then accusing your face of hitting my fist. A case can be made that it was primarily either the Doria’s fault or the Stockholm’s that the collision occurred, but no matter whose fault it was, it was most certainly the Stockholm that hit the Doria. Stockholm drove a hole almost halfway through the center of the other ship. Stockholm was definitely doing the hitting by any sensible definition of the word.

Other issues that are glossed over are the many duties requiring Carstens’ attention as sole officer on the bridge of the Stockholm. He could not give his full attention to the navigation of the ship. Also, the helmsman’s habit of paying more attention to his surroundings than his compass is mentioned in passing, but the possible ramifications of his inattention are completely ignored.

The reason this book is so skewed is that the author was at one time the information officer for the Swedish-American line, the owners of the Stockholm. It is also the reason why this book should not be overlooked, even if it is so one-sided. Mattsson had the opportunity of having extended discussions with Johan-Ernst Carstens-Johannsen, the sole officer on the bridge of the Stockholm at the time of the collision. Carstens’ views of the event, told in his own words, are extensively quoted throughout this book. It is an invaluable insight into the event from the Stockholm’s point of view.

Another strength of this book is the amount of fresh material it brings to the reader. This is not another rehash of the tragedy and how it affected the lives of the people who lived and died. There is very little concerning this element of the story, which has been so completely covered in other books. Out of the Fog instead concentrates on a history of the two ships, the background of the two shipping companies involved, the events leading to the crash, the aftermath, and the legal wrangling that followed.

For instance, this was the first time I remember reading that Stockholm requested Ille de France escort her back to America as there was serious concern about the ability of the now overloaded Stockholm being able to make it to port. The French ship refused this request! siting a need to get back on schedule. Stockholm was left on her own, except for two small Coast Guard cutters. If the damaged ship had gotten into trouble, there is no way these two cutters could have saved all the people on Stockholm.

There is lots more, including a great deal of the behind the scenes maneuvering by both companies which ended up in the out of court settlement of the trial. A lot of this is completely new material, not available to the public before.

In summation, this is an important, if one-sided, new book on this incredible maritime disaster. Originally published in 1986 in Swedish, this book has just been released in an English edition in 2003. It is a must read for anyone interested in this event, but a familiarity with the whole story is strongly recommended. Now if only someone from the Italian side would write a similar book from their point of view.

all the best, Michael (TheManInBlack) T
 
M

Melissa E. Kalson

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Hi Michael, Tracy..
Say Michael will you be selling this from your bookstore or will this be available from my area bookstores (e.g. Barnes & Noble, Borders, etc.)? Sincerely, Melissa K.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Amazon is offering the book. Just click on This Hotlink to check it out and even buy it. I may go for it. If nothing else, I'd love to see how the author justifies the incredible claim that the Andrea Doria hit them. (He seems to have missed the gaping hole in the Doria's side where the Stockholm's bow ripped them a new one!)
 
Nov 12, 2000
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Melissa, I won't be selling this one through my store, but thanks for asking! you should be able to order it through any major bookstores in your area, if they don't have it in stock already. also as Mike S pointed out, it is available on-line at the usual new book sites.

Mike, to be fair to the author, by the time he gets to his summation at the end, he softens his stance somewhat and suggests that the liability was about 70% on the Italians and 30% on the Swedes. I am not sure what his distinction is between fault and liability, as through most of the book, he insists that the Italians were 100% at fault.

all the best, Michael (TheManInBlack) T
 
Sep 22, 2003
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Michael Tennaro & Michael H. Standart

I also read this book. it is a somewhat controversial, though because of the its new info legal info on the case and extensive quotes from carstens it is an essential Andrea Doria book to own for anyone interested in the ship and the collision. there are a couple reasons for the book being so one sided, 1. is that the author was at one time the information officer for the Swedish-American line, 2. he was Assisted by the Assistant Attorney for the Sweidish America Line in the books Translation. i have read a book Review on "Out of the Fog" by Kenneth Volk (Eugene Underwood's Assistant Attorney, Italian Line). if anyone would like a copy of this book review send me private message w/ your email address.
 

Matthew Lips

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Mar 8, 2001
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I'm about half way through the book right now. As an Italian (from the Genoa district no less) I am perhaps more irritated than most by the pro-Swedish slant of the text, but numerous photo's that I have never seen before make up for it somewhat.

Let's fact it, the two protagonists have always and will always blame the other for the collision. It is only natural, in the absence of any firm evidence to the contrary.

Whatever you may think of the book's premise that Stockholm was as innocent as a new-born baby (the bad guy wore black, the good guy white, as usual!), the extensive quotes from the only officer on Stockholm's bridge at the time of collision make this book well worth a read. They offer new insights, even if it is only re one side of the story, as to what happened that night.

I agree, though, that a similar book written from an Italian perspective would be interesting and help to balance things out. Maybe I will so cheesed off with this "Andrea Doria caused it" approach by the time I finish "Out of the Fog" that I could be persuaded to have a stab at it myself...
 

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