During the dark days of the Great Depression, thousands of weary souls escaped their bleak lives for a week of paradise aboard the Ward Line's glamorous cruise ship, the Morro Castle. It was the most famous passenger liner of its day, lightning fast, elegantly appointed. It was also a ticking time bomb.It was the summer of 1934. Two sailors joined the Morro Castle crew, one a teenager on his first job away from home, the other a dangerous psychopath. Within two months, they would witness the end of the party in a single night of death, killer storms, and catastrophic fire. And that was only the beginning of a twenty-year-long story. In When the Dancing Stopped, we too walk up the gangplank to that art-deco liner and, at first, enjoy the glamour and the sultry Havana nights. With mounting suspense, we also witness the launch of a mystery that mesmerized the nation and then, in the midst of troubled times, faded away. Award-winning author Brian Hicks, using newly declassified FBI files, thousands of pages of investigation notes, testimony, and new interviews, takes the reader on a mid-century cruise through history, revealing a cold-case file that had been, until now, left unsolved for history. And, as he relates in this work of masterful storytelling, it all began with the last cruise of the Morro Castle. One of those two men, Thomas Torresson Jr., first sailed on the cruise ship as a high school senior recovering from serious illness and soon found a love that would endure his entire life. Within months, he would join the crew. For George Rogers, a gifted radio operator with a secret past, the ship was merely the latest in a long line of jobs. Their paths would cross several times on the way to their destiny, and the disaster would affect the two in very different ways: one would become famous, the other scarred forever. In the grand tradition of The Devil in the White City, Hicks details a desperate investigation and the search for what may be the modern era's first serial killer through the tragic backdrop of a country suffering through depression and a buildup to war. With cameos by J. Edgar Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Ernest Hemingway, When the Dancing Stopped is the captivating true story of two men irrevocably bound by history -- a true American hero and a dangerous killer masquerading as one. More than that, there is the larger cast of characters: crew members and passengers, investigators, scoundrels, and, yes, additional victims. For the story that began on that storm-tossed night off the coast of New Jersey continued, as we now learn, for decades to come.
In 1808 the Sv. Nikolai, owned by the Russian American Company, set sail from New Arkhangel (modern-day Sitka, Alaska) to explore and identify a site for a permanent Russian fur trading post on the mainland south of Vancouver Island. Heavy seas drove the ship aground in late December, forcing twenty-two crew members ashore, including Anna Petrovna Bulygin, the wife of ship captain Nikolai Isaakovich Bulygin. Over the next several months the shipwrecked crew clashed with Hohs, Quileutes, and Makahs, but with little knowledge of the country, the castaways soon found themselves owing their lives to the very tribes they had fought with upon arrival. The tribes captured and enslaved several of the crew members. In 1810 an American captain sailing for the Russian American Company ransomed the survivors. This volume combines two source accounts of the event. The first is the story of a Russian survivor, Timofei Osipovich Tarakanov, the expedition's leader after the shipwreck. The second is a Quileute account, preserved orally for nearly a century before being recorded in 1909. Combined, these wonderful accounts tell a tale of adventure with moments of high drama, heroism, a touch of comedy, and eventual tragedy. Kenneth N. Owens is a professor emeritus of history at California State University, Sacramento, and the editor of John Sutter and a Wider West (Nebraska 1994). Alton S. Donnelly is a professor emeritus of history at SUNY, Binghamton, and coeditor of History of the Russian-American Company.
On the morning of November 20, 1820, in the Pacific Ocean, an enraged sperm whale rammed the Nantucket whaler Essex. As the boat began to sink, her crew of thirty had time only to collect some bread and water before pulling away in three frail open boats. Without charts, alone on the open seas, and thousands of miles from any known land, the sailors began their terrifying journey of survival. Ninety days later, after much suffering and death by starvation, intense heat, and dehydration, only eight men survived to reach land. One of them was Owen Chase, first mate of the ill-fated ship, whose account of the long and perilous journey has become a classic of endurance and human courage. The elements of his tale inspired Herman Melville (who was born the year the Essex sank) to write the classic Moby Dick. A gallant saga of the sea, this riveting narration of life and death, of man against the deep, will enthrall readers.