This collection of 17 remarkable maritime stories stretches from 1752 to 2005 across several countries, including warships and merchantmen, steam and sail, the humble and the prestigious. Encompassing the major causes of maritime disaster - war, weather, navigation, human failings and technology - it highlights the themes and qualities that make the maritime drama so compelling: and it dares to challenge the popular perception of the Titanic as the greatest shipwreck story of all time. The drunken captain of an unseaworthy ferry who refuses to return to port in bad weather because he would have to refund the fares; the naval captain who entrusts the navigation of his frigate to a passenger; the crew who callously ignored freezing survivors on a dismasted wreck; the passengers who seriously believed a ship could be unsinkable.
But for every instance of cruelty, criminal negligence and bad luck over the past 250 years there is another of courage, leadership, humanity and sheer audacity: the Americans who went to save the crew of the Squalus submarine trapped at a depth beyond the capability of any previous rescue equipment; the French fisherman who swam through heavy seas to a convict ship in distress; the German commander who risked his life and his U-boat to help survivors; the Spaniard who used his bowsprit as a lifeline. It brings dramatic stories, some barely known outside their own countries, some inexplicably neglected in their own, to vivid life and asks the question: what are the ingredients of a great maritimte drama?
Jean Hood is an acclaimed writer and historian. She formerly worked as Information Officer at Lloyd's Register of Shipping, and has published widely on maritime and naval subjects. Her work typically focuses on human stories of conflict and tragedy, incorporating eyewitness accounts and detailed research to cast new light on historical incidents. Her first non-fiction book, Marked for Misfortune, concerned the wreck of the East Indiaman Winterton. She is also the author of Trafalgar Square, Come Hell and High Water (published in paperback as Wreck) and the highly-praised anthologies Submarine and Carrier. Her latest project, War Correspondent, accompanies a major IWM exhibition and was published in May 2011.