A book with more popular appeal than the powerful, but difficult Stalingrad and with a terseness and impact that now and again amply justifies the publisher's claim of a style that recalls Joseph Conrad. Wenzel had jumped ship on the West coast of South America, and found himself penniless and virtually marooned on a remote outpost of nitrate mining. Drifters and wastrels and ne'er-do-wells- employees of the Company who see no future -- a pilot who runs an inn of sorts and dreams of fine marriages for his daughters-- a brothel keeper and her girls -- fishermen with no ambition, such were the people with whom Wenzel had cast his lot. When he got involved in illegal fishing activities and later labor troubles, he had stepped out of character, and the authorities -- such as they were-- had to get rid of him...His next stop, a port town where he hoped for a ship- proved almost worse, but when he discovered that he had been tricked- by an acquisitive woman- into betraying his comrades in misery through a shanghaiing, his better nature won out, and he shipped, with full knowledge of his fate, on a ship bound on an unsavory voyage. There's brutality and crudity here; there's no prettying up of the rawness of life along these cruel shores; there's powerful characterization, an authentic feel of the sea and the life, and a story that, unpleasant as it often is, carries the reader along.