o I was looking for something other than cutting edge scifi and saw this book on my wife’s done stack, something she got from somewhere that had caught her eye, The Seas That Mourn, by Patrick D. Smith. Now, I didn’t know about Mr. Smith but have since found out that he is a very popular Florida writer and has a section of State Road 520 named after him (which I’ve driven a lot of times and never noticed). Of course, this honor was done by a governor before they started using their office to ban books and punish gay-tolerating theme parks, but I digress.
So, an odd selection by my wife but the book is the story of young Jimmy Kindall, an aimless young college student who decides to do his part and see the world in the dark days after Pearl Harbor. And rather than going the traditional route, he joins the Merchant Marine. These are the guys that buttress the crews of supply ships all around the world, supposedly trained in their academy to fill in (and yet, it seems, so woefully unprepared). Now, if you think this is just smooth sailing, it isn’t. U-boats are sinking merchant ships at alarming rates and the run to Russia is like a Luftwaffe shooting gallery. Danger is just beyond every wave top.
Most interesting are the looks at what a seaman’s life was really like, the cheap dives, the alcohol abuse, the despair and loneliness and stress. Once or twice, Jimmy goes on shocking benders that nearly see him brigged or beached. So for you fans of the times, it’s another good point-of-view tale, not from a soldier or stay-at-home civilian but from a guy on a ship supplying the drive against the axis.
Yes, now I know why they named the road after him. Smith is a great writer and his story stands out.