Did Spaulding find the Ellen Marie? Yes and no. And only reading this enjoyable book will clear up the ambiguity.


“Page-turner” may be a cliché, but this memoir-cum-mystery with a clever premise is a strong contender for the honor.

In July 2006, neophyte writer Spaulding bought a watercolor painting titled The Pilot House, as in the pilothouse of a commercial fishing boat. When told that the boat was the Ellen Marie and might still be afloat, Spaulding had an epiphany: She was going to track down the Ellen Marie. It was built in the early 1960s at the Harvey Gamage Shipyard in Bristol, Maine. How many owners in half a century? Spaulding dug into the archives and maritime records in New Bedford, the renowned Massachusetts fishing port. She trekked up to Maine, talking to whomever she could find who worked for Harvey Gamage at the time. Never without cellphone and laptop, Spaulding made all sorts of contacts, serendipity playing a large part: A waitress, a gas pump jockey and a grocery bagger turned out to be a cousin of so-and-so who crewed for so-and-so. Commercial fishing, as readers learn, is a very hard, very dangerous way to make a buck, and there aren’t even serious bucks to be made anymore. Boats sink. Her sources have lost fathers, sons, brothers. A mate was careless around a winch and was decapitated. Winter squalls can sheath a boat in ice. Woodie Bowers, captain of the Ellen Marie in her heyday, takes Spaulding and readers on an imagined typical run out to Georges Bank, with plenty of arcane terminology and lore. One chilling item: Changing the name of a boat, which is exactly what a later owner did (Ellen Marie became Three Vs), is sure to bring bad luck. After a few chapters to settle down her style, Spaulding proves to be an engaging writer. The chapters are short, underscoring the drama of the chase, and black-and-white period photographs help fill out the picture.

Did Spaulding find the Ellen Marie? Yes and no. And only reading this enjoyable book will clear up the ambiguity.

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2014

ISBN: 978-1480810433

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Archway Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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