THE SEALER by James Wood


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This is a very fine adventure story about a man's experiences in the last World War which manages to combine several elements while presenting a portrayal of character that is both interesting and true. James Fraser, who is described at one point in the book as a chary Scot, was a poacher fisherman when the war broke out. Intelligent, fiercely independent, he joined the merchant marine out of a belligerence he couldn't explain though he knew well enough why others went to war. He had already been treated to some war adventures at sea when he was asked by the British Navy to accept an assignment as an agent at the southernmost tip of Chile, at the Magellan Straits, in order to discover how the German raider Seeadler was receiving supplies. Fraser was to live and work with a Scottish sheep rancher and learn what he could about the German ship. He runs into an American whale oil poacher, Dave Lansing, who offers Fraser the information he wants in return for helping him free a man from an Argentine penal colony. They manage to complete both missions and with the help of British agents toward the end they discover the freighter which kept the raider afloat with supplies from Argentina. But Lansing, whose loyalities don't extend very much beyond himself, takes off with almost thirty thousand dollars from the freighter. Later, in London, Fraser, who had become more committed than he intended, signs up for another convoy. Written in a simple, declarative, uncluttered style, the book's tone of understatement makes it all the more effective.

Pub Date: May 19th, 1960
Publisher: Vanguard