THE CRUEL SEA by Nicholas Monsarrat
Kirkus Star


Email this review


But the men are the stars of the story. The only heroines are the ships and the only villain the cruel sea itself."" And so it is, this engrossing, enormous record of the years 1939 and on into 1945, of Atlantic convoy duty aboard the corvette, Compass Rose, and later, on the a frigate. Lt. Com. Ericson, with a new job, a new ship, and a new crew, is also faced with a new kind of war as an escort of the Western Approaches Command. The training in Scotland gives them faith in what they had called either ""a natural bastard"", a ""crap barge or ""gash boat"" as the ship responds as quickly as they. There is the shakedown and the shock of the first convoy, the gradual welding together of the regular RN's and the ""hostilities only"", the building up of a good ship as the Compass Rose reveals her personality, dependability and ability as a watchdog and an anti-U-boat hunter. The refit, after two years of grim incidents, brings changes in many of the lives; they roam from the Mediterranean to the Arctic and there the Compass Rose meets her end, as do 80 out of the 91 aboard. Ericson and his First are confronted with a fresh group to man the Saltash and again the qualities of those in command band them into an efficient unit, ready for the eye-opener of a refit in New York, the Normandy invasion and the surrender of the U-boats at the end of the European war. This is the time-track; the sound-track misses nothing of untidy battle and gruesome death, ribald and masculine comedy, personal and marital problems, tangible and intangible changes against the progress of the war; the horror, terror, elation and pity on the human front and the unrelenting, ever-waiting merciless and impersonal sea. A book that speaks to you and makes you part of its story.

Pub Date: Aug. 6th, 1951
Publisher: Knopf