White Hurricane by David G Brown

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Jan C. Nielsen

Member
Today, I got my copy of this book, and I've just started to read it. There are some rather gruesome pictures of sailors washed up on the beach. David says:

Scores of frozen bodies washed onto the beaches of southeastern Lake Huron. They were found both huddled together and alone. Some appeared to have struggled, while others were composed and serene . . . the beach held one gruesome discovery after another. Sometimes, a stretch of beach would be cleared of bodies only to have new ones appear as the waves brought them to shore.

The "White Hurricane" clocked winds of more than 80 miles an hour. Interestingly, David quotes from the Cleveland Press on pages 210-211, as follows:

Greed

Just one more trip --- just a little fatter dividend -- just a hundred or so seamen floating dead in the lakes.

Children are fatherless and newmade widows are thrust out into the world to wring from it a hard living because rich vesselmen are willing to imperil the lives of their employees in the name of greed.

All of the world knows that death lurks upon the Great Lakes in November. None know it better than the boat owners, but their boats are insured.

So nine great Cleveland vessels are lost or missing and 168 members of their crews have died.

The November dividend has been paid, in coin of human life and suffering.


David also mentions that Great Lakes captains received performance bonuses, and thus, had the incentive to undertake risky November voyages.

Here again (as in Titanic's story), safety is unnecessarily secondary to profit.

It looks like most of the "White Hurricane" ships were lost on Lake Huron, but there were quite a few on Lake Superior, according to a map in the book --- only several on Lake Michigan, and none on Lake Ontario.

He explains that wind speeds increase over water, and "steer" down the lakes with greater velocity.

I just started reading "White Hurricane" and, as such, I haven't got into reading about the stories of the individual ships . . . and the development of the storm -- I'm looking forward to that. So far, it looks like a really interesting book. I recommend it.
 
David G. Brown

David G. Brown

RIP
Jan -- Thanks a million for buying my book. I'll be looking forward to your comments when you have completed reading it.

-- David G. Brown
 
Tracy Smith

Tracy Smith

Member
I looked for it this weekend at Barnes and Noble, but it hasn't turned up there yet. I will be buying it once I see it, though.
 
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Jan C. Nielsen

Member
Tracy,

I got mine at Barnes & Noble. It was just released. If it's not on the shelf tell them the name and the author, and they'll order it. The store I went to didn't require a deposit.

So far, I've gotten through the first couple of chapters, which are mainly about the Charles S. Price, a ship that capsized in the the storm. I enjoyed every minute of it.
 
Michael H. Standart

Michael H. Standart

Member
I'm about 2/3rds of the way through my copy, and if this account doesn't make anyone respect the sort of power packed by the Great Lakes, I don't know what will. Having said that much, there was one point in the commentaries I think needs to be addressed, to wit;

"Here again (as in Titanic's story), safety is unnecessarily secondary to profit."

While not entirely inaccurate, it suffers from the same problem of all half-truths in that it ignors the rest of the story, and is extremely simplistic. None of these conditions...the incentives, the risk taking etc. would exist if there wasn't a pre-existing demand to support it in the first place. The steel mills needed coal and steel, otherwise they would be shut down and thousands thrown out of work and needed wages. Also, quite a few isolated communities existed then on the Great Lakes which depened on these last late deliveries of food and fuel to get through the winter when re-supply would be virtually impossible. (The Regina's last voyage was made to do exactly that.)

The catch here is that when the storm was brewing, nobody had any real idea just how bad it would be until it was on top of them, and by then it was too late. Whether forecasting was in it's infancy and those living in that era did not have the benefit of knowing what we do now.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
David G. Brown

David G. Brown

RIP
For those having trouble getting a copy of the book, I have sympathy. Even I haven't received my copies from the publisher. The book distribution system makes buggy whips look high tech!

I'm glad that some of you have started reading "White Hurricane." I do look forward to your comments.

--David G. Brown
 
Michael H. Standart

Michael H. Standart

Member
Dave, convoluted, I'm sure, doesn't even begin to describe the problem. I've bookmarked Amazon.uk because they seem to have all the really good titles befor they ever hit the market on our side of the pond. That copy of Norman Friedmans's "U.S. Amphibious Ships and Craft: An Illustrated Design History" which I ordered back in March...when it was originally supposed to be published...still hasn't shipped and now the publication date is listed for July.

I have to wonder why publication dates slip so badly in the USA. Any ideas?

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
David G. Brown

David G. Brown

RIP
My book was scheduled to be released in April. It was delayed for various reasons never explained to me. I did not complain because an April release date would have put it into the stores at the wrong time of year. It would have been an "old" book in November which is obviously the peak month for interest in the story. Most books of this type are only displayed for about 6 months in the chain stores before being remaindered back to the publisher or sold off by the pound. Thus, an April release would have limited any potential publicity. If you can understand this, please let me know how the underlying logic works. However, I did not make a fuss about delays simply because the worked in my favor. November is much closer to mid-July than to April.

Production delays in book publishing are the norm, not the exception. I am told there is currently a shortage of press time. So, books are backed up waiting to be printed. This may or may not be true, but it's the story my publisher is telling.

Another "dirty secret" is that some books are announced just to see if any interest in them exists. If enough advance orders are not received, the project is cancelled prior to production. So, it is possible to order a book that does not exist and which will never be printed because of lack of pre-production orders.

--David G. Brown
 
Michael H. Standart

Michael H. Standart

Member
That "dirty secret" you mentioned would actually explain a few things. I noticed that Ocean Liners by Leo Marriot was being advertised for the longest time as awaiting publication, then one day, I clicked on it only to find it listed as "out of print"

Oddly enough, it had a publication date of October 2002! How can it be out of print if it hasn't even been published?

Strange.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
E

Erik Wood

Member
Another Dave Brown book??? Doesn't he have something better to do with his time then write books about ships.

Wait a second... I don't have anything better to do then read them. DOH!!!

Seriously, good luck with the book Dave and I just may snag a copy of it when I see it.

Erik
 
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Jan C. Nielsen

Member
Some of the stories in "White Hurricane" are incredible. I just finished the chapter where a crew was beached by the storm, their ship burned, and then they had to walk five miles through heavy snow to a farmhouse, for shelter. Apparently, they all survived.
 
David G. Brown

David G. Brown

RIP
Jan -- some of that story is incredible, especially the part about throwing the mate at snow drifts to break a path. (This was before the day of dwarf tossing contests.) Still, their ship did go aground, did catch fire, and they did have to walk through a blizzard to safety. Have you come to the story of Sadie, the assistant steward who was washed out of the galley and down into the engine room? The story of her working waist deep in freezing water (in bare feet) to feed the crew is apparently true.

-- David G. Brown
 
Tracy Smith

Tracy Smith

Member
Thanks for the tidbits, everyone. It is making more eager to get this book and read it.
 
J

Jan C. Nielsen

Member
I don't doubt any of it, David. I mean "incredible" in the Ernest Shackleton sense, these are incredible stories of perseverance. I haven't got to Sadie's story yet.
 
David G. Brown

David G. Brown

RIP
The most incredible event has to be Captain Jimmy Owen setting off across Lake Superior in a roaring gale before his ship's hatches were closed and dogged.

--David G. Brown
 
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