This story is immensely compelling. It captured and focused the attention of both America and Europe during Christmas 1951 and early 1952. I was just a wee little pup at that time, but I’ll bet there are plenty of octogenarian-types that remember the events quite sharply. It is a classic story; all the right pieces are in play: one man against the savage storm, against all odds, the whole (English speaking) world enthralled, holding their breath. Duty, love, pride, seamanship, heroism, and enough bull-headed courage to fill the ocean. Volkswagen cars (can you imagine what a pristine 1952 bug would be worth today?) Stradivarius violins, (Don’t cheat and read the final chapters before their time) cash, jewels, nuclear material. Holy smokes this story should keep you on the edge of your seat until the final page…….
But sadly, it doesn’t. And that’s a tragedy, because the story is completely true and it deserves to be told with all the force of Thor’s hammer…..and find its place in the seafaring mythology of future generations. It is a Viking Epic, binding the United States, Europe and Scandinavia.
Simple Courage has more than enough guts to be a legend: A young Danish Captain, Kurt Carlsen, crossing the stormy North Atlantic over the holidays. His freighter is hit by two rogue waves, the hull cracks, the cargo shifts…..the crippled ship rolls 60° to port and doesn’t recover. The propeller and rudder are now out of the water and the 40′ waves keep coming whipped by Force 12 winds. Passengers, crew and cargo in peril; one man entrusted with their safety.
The story is powerful and timeless, but Delaney belabors every tiny detail, looking at it from every angle, trying to reinforce his words by repeating them. How much better this story would have been if it were captured in 200 pages instead of 300. And written as an adventure instead of a chronicle for historians. Then it would have the life it deserves instead of a mere place on the shelf.