Occasionally self-indulgent but intriguing memoir by the now-deceased Moynihan, chronicling the time he served as a Merchant Marine aboard the Rose City.
In the author’s first—and sadly, last—book, he discusses his adventures as a seaman on a brutal and unforgiving four-month journey around the world. His father, the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, pulled strings to find his son a place on a ship taking what seemed to be a pleasure cruise around the Mediterranean; however, the young Moynihan was shocked when the journey turned out to be anything but a relaxing vacation. Initially advised to hide his distinguished origins, the details of his parentage quickly leaked, transforming his search for adventure into a miserable, lonely existence. The author laments his treatment at the hands of his fellow seamen and doesn’t seem to ever overcome this self-pity. The second half of the book focuses on the increasingly difficult physical conditions aboard the Rose City, as well as the debauchery that occurred when the ship made port. Though the descriptions of booze, women and drunken antics may seem unnecessary and distasteful to some readers, Moynihan uses them to effectively demonstrate how, through these experiences, the disparate men bonded and became a unified crew. It makes for a sincere study of the life of a man at sea, eschewing the romanticism often associated with the lifestyle. Moynihan is a talented writer, wielding crisp and clear prose, and his emotions spill out onto the page but never overwhelm the story. He brings the narrative to a satisfying close, only marred by the fact that the author’s life was cut tragically short.
An honest portrayal of a lonely life at sea, Moynihan’s adventures aboard the Rose City are exciting, but it is his overwhelming desire for acceptance that will resonate most with readers.