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When the Dancing Stopped: The Real Story of the Morro Castle Disaster and Its Deadly Wake MP3 CD – Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Unabridged

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The Morro Castle, a luxurious cruise ship, inexplicably caught fire on September 8, 1934, off the New Jersey coast on its way back from Havana. The blaze spread so quickly that many lifeboats were burned, and at least 134 passengers (out of 318) perished. Hicks (Raising the Hunley: The Remarkable History and Recovery of the Lost Confederate Submarine) re-creates this incident in a page-turning chronicle. The cause was never determined, but drawing on official records, first-person accounts and recently declassified FBI documents, Hicks makes a convincing case that the fire was set by a crew member. Shortly before the fire, the ship's captain died mysteriously of an apparent heart attack and was succeeded by William Warms. Hicks details how Warms's agitation and indecision made the disaster worse: he neglected, for one thing, to turn his ship away from an impending nor'easter, whose wind further whipped the flames. Hicks has done a lot of research, but it never weighs down the narrative, which draws the reader in from the get-go. 8 pages of b&w photos. (Oct. 24)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

On September 7, 1934, the captain of the luxury ocean-linerMorro Castle died under mysterious circumstances. A fire then started in the engine room and rapidly spread throughout the ship as it was returning from a Labor Day cruise to Havana. Gale-force winds caused the vessel to burn and run aground off the New Jersey coast of Asbury, and 134 passengers died. George Rogers, a crewmember, sent out a distress signal and was hailed for his bravery. The cause of the fire officially remains unsolved. Hicks believes that Rogers, who later was convicted of two murders, set the fire. The author read thousands of previously classified FBI reports and transcripts of innumerable public hearings, and he conducted interviews with survivors. With eight pages of black-and-white photographs, the book is a riveting account of this tragedy and the man who apparently caused it. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • MP3 CD
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio; MP3 - Unabridged CD edition (December 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400153271
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400153275
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 7.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,170,054 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Paul Bogan on January 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is, by my reckoning, the fourth book-length treatment of the Morro Castle disaster. It is also arguably the best of the lot, while not without its flaws.

Thomas Gallagher's "Fire At Sea," published initially in 1960 and reprinted a few years ago by Lyons Press, told what was a compelling tale on the surface; however, some of the author's claims fall apart on closer scrutiny, in no small part because he presented as fact incidents that could kindly be called apocryphal (some of which were known, at the time, to have been false). "Morro Castle" (Hal Burton), while a competent offering--here the author sticks to the facts--breaks no new ground. "Shipwreck" (Thomas/Witts) I've seen compared--accurately, it should be said--to a screen treatment; the writing is dramatic in all the worst ways, and the authors make some factual leaps in service to their story, rather than sticking to events as they happened. Each of these books covers slightly different facets of the event, giving a Rashomon-like quality to a narrative whose true nature may never be known.

Against this backdrop, "When The Dancing Stopped" appeared in 2006. Hicks takes as his protagonists passenger Doris Wacker and crew member Tom Torreson, whose stories are covered, to varying degrees, in the previous books. He does, however, further flesh out their stories, and much of the rest of the back story both of the vessel and the Ward Line, the company that operated her. He further makes use of FBI files that had previously been unavailable, shedding some new light on the character and actions of the disaster's "hero," Chief Radio Operator George Rogers.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Paul Tognetti TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Every so often I come across a book that grabs my attention in the opening pages and keeps me fixated right until the very end. "When The Dancing Stopped" is just such a book. Author Brian Hicks relates the incredible tale of the cruise ship Morro Castle and fantastic events that led to its untimely demise in September 1934 off the New Jersey Coast. The Morro Castle, flagship of the steamship company known as the Ward Line, carried all of the mail between New York and Cuba. It was a lucrative government contract worth more than $750,000 per year. The ship was also outfitted to carry hundreds of passengers on its weekly jaunts to Havana.

None of the passengers or crew members of the Morro Castle could possibly have anticipated the bizarre and deadly events would unfold on that fateful evening of September 8, 1934. Within just a few short hours the ships captain Robert Willmott would be found dead in his quarters and a deadly fire would break out on board the Morro Castle. To make matters worse a tropical storm was rapidly approaching the disabled vessel from the South while a massive Nor'easter was bearing down from the North. All the ingredients were in place for a major catastrophe!
What makes all of this so disturbing is that there was ample evidence to suggest that Captain Willmotte just might have been murdered and that the fire was indeed no accident. What could possibly motivate an individual or group of people to perpertate such dastardly deeds? This is what "When The Dancing Stopped" is all about. You will meet the members of the crew and learn how they reacted during this tragedy. You will be appalled to learn why so many of the lifeboats on board were never even used.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By B. Beach on March 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Having grown up only minutes from Asbury Park I have seen the many photos of the Morro Castle beached in front of Convention Hall for years, but never knew the details of the fateful voyage until reading this excellent book. Unfortunately too much remians unknown about the ships true fate, and many years have passed. The author does an excellent job of trying to solve the mystery, but the ultimate explanation will never be known. Nonetheless "When the Dancing Stopped" is a well written, suspenseful book; a worthy read for anyone interested in maritime history or the history of New Jersey.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Michael Poirier on October 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book, When the Dancing Stopped, purports to put a new spin the story of the mysterious Morro Castle of 1934. The author reaches startlingly unoriginal conclusions about the fires origin- basically the same as found in the book, Morro Castle by Hal Burton.

Some of the FBI files that the author used were actually blocked for many years until authors Bob McDonnell and Fred Rasmussen fought to get them. Yet, the files that appear to be used only seem to pertain to George Rogers. Many FBI files (and important testimony) exist that do not pertain to George Rogers, but these were not used. There is nothing said about the empty B Deck suites that were believed to be soaked with gasoline, causing the fire to accelerate; Nothing about the ship's unlucky history regarding the potential to be destroyed by revolutionaries; and not much about the Ward Line's unlucky history and their history of suspicious ship fires.

The author also claims that he wanted to write this for Tom Torresson, and to try and set the record straight about the crew. This thread seems to be dropped in the book and not much is said in defense of the crew or to condemn the crew. The two stories Hicks uses (Doris Wacker and Tom Torresson) have been used before, so again, not much new info.

I cannot really think of anything exceptional about the book and unfortunately, cannot recommend it.
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