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Shipwreck: The strange fate of the Morro Castle Hardcover – 1988

4.1 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 287 pages
  • Publisher: Dorset Press (1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 088029244X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0880292443
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,253,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Today [9/5] is the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the saga of the Morro Castle's fateful last voyage. When I first ran across the paperback version of this book 16 years ago and bought it on the spot, I opened it up and didn't close it until I'd read the whole thing. I just purchased through this site the hardback edition, which makes for even better reading with larger, clearer photos. This is a classic page-turner, filled with international political intrigue, Communist plottings, smuggling, murder, soulless corporate dealings [nothing new there], the "we need a spectacular ship" wish of a resort town turned into astounding prophecy, a quality- and safety-compromised ship and her disgruntled maltreated crew, and a deranged attention-starved psycho onboard lusting for revenge. Even though it's stated to have been "the first major sea disaster the media had covered," I'd never heard of this terrible tale, which should be ranked near the top [so to speak] of the ship disasters list of the 20th century. Why it hasn't been made into a movie is beyond me! Handled properly [without taking indecent liberties such as the fictional characters in "Titanic" (and the tired-puppy portrayals thereof)], this could be a line-down-the-block megahit! In the meantime, for those who like good spicy stories, I highly recommend this well-written, highly informative 5+ stars sizzler, whose only narrative flaw is annoying repetition involving some geographic details and the year involved. "I couldn't put it down!" definitely applies here, because it sure hooked me from start to finish!
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Format: Kindle Edition
Sadly, much of this sensational book has been debunked ages ago. If you like Enquirer-type storytelling and James Frey-style facts, this book is for you. If you prefer the real story of what happened, read Hal Burton's "Morro Castle" book and Deb Whitcraft's "Inferno at Sea". Even Brian Hick's book on the disaster is more factual and better written, and that is saying something!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I got this book because I needed a light read while commuting to work in the afternoons. I found this book to be okay, a couple of places could have used some more editing for clarity and spelling. Now that I've gotten this out of the way, let me get to the heart of this book.

Mr. Thomas' theory that the Chief Radio Operator had a hand in the death of the Captain and starting the fire the next night might make some sense, however, I would have like to see more proof either in the transcripts of the hearings to determine what happened or finding the family of the main suspect to talk with them. I do like his including the political situation in Cuba almost 30 years before Castro assumed power, the fears of a communist takeover on the island and in the United States and the labor unrest of the 1930's. I do like the way that he sets up the various stories of the passengers and crew on the final voyage. His set up of the night of the fire almost makes me think I was on the deck on that fateful night trying to decide whether to jump or wait for rescue or hope that the lifeboats can be launched (did the captain learn from the lessons from the General Slocum which caught on fire in 1904 with the loss of many lives due to the lack of lifeboats?)

For a light read, I can recommend this book. If you are a historian like myself, just be prepared to do your own research to satisfy your own coursity.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a fine investigative work of crime-writing. You *know* what the end of the story is when you read the title, but Thomas pulls you deep into the story from the beginning, making you want to know all the details of how it will all end. It reminds me of Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood" in that regard, but it doesn't succeed as completely in drawing you into the lives of the people involved so much as it does into the developing events which lead us to the catastrophe and its bizarre aftermath. Beware, there will be no happy ending or even a satisfying conclusion. But you will put the book down feeling that you understand how it all went down, that all bad actors have taken their bows, and that modern cruises are at least moderately safer. One hopes the fate of the Morro Castle lead to industry-wide safety standards changes and better personnel selection. Recent events with the Concordia sinking torpedoed any such hopes I may have had.

Still, though I will not be taking any cruise during this life unless more lasting and significant change comes to the industry, it is a great story and a good illustration of how governments fail to protect citizens from the deep-pocketed corporate citizens who run the one and own the other, or both, as is the case here.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I knew only about the Morro Castle and it's fate, but after reading this fascinating book about the ship, it's crew, passengers and fate, I know a lot more. The authors write in detail about the crew members and their conduct using eyewitnesses and family members; they also write about some of the passengers and survivors of the fire that happened aboard the ship, which while serving as a passenger pleasure cruise ship also carried arms and ammunition to Cuba. This only makes the mysterious happenings on the ship before the deadly fire more mysterious.
The person who eventually became the primary suspect in starting the fire that led to the ship's demise is revealed as a madman, a psychopath which leads the reader in believing he is responsible for what happened to the Morro Castle and missteps and non-compliance of shipping regulations by the captain and crew led to panic and fatal consequences for the passengers.
The book is written not so much as a historical document as a mystery thriller that happens to be true. I enjoyed reading and learning about the fate of the Morro Castle.
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