The captain of the luxurious Ward Line flagship died under mysterious circumstances seven hours before his ship caught. Much of the crew abandoned ship, leaving passengers to burn or jump into the sea as a hurricane approached and literally fanned the flames. The ship was incinerated, and 134 people perished.
Using hundreds of previously classified FBI reports, first-person survivor interviews, and countless documents, Brian Hicks has written and solved a murder mystery that mesmerized the nation more than 70 years ago. Told with authentic period detail and true-crime excitement, Hicks determines that the ominous weather was not the cause for the ship's burning. From Hick's deeply researched epic, we can only conclude that the disaster was the work of a madman among the crew.
Hicks creates a finely drawn portrait of Depression-era America. Perfect for history buffs and adventure enthusiasts, When the Dancing Stopped is nonfiction narrative at its best.
©2006 Brian Hicks; (P)2006 Tantor Media, Inc.
"A suspenseful, highly satisfying listen." (Kirkus)
"The book is a riveting account of this tragedy and the man who apparently caused it." (Booklist)
"Hicks has done a lot of research, but it never weighs down the narrative, which draws the listener in from the get-go." (Publishers Weekly)
This book caught my eye because I'd heard of the Morro Castle but knew just the basic outlines of the tragedy. I knew a lot of people died when the ship caught fire off the NJ coast, that's about all. I'm about halfway through it now and it's one of those selections that makes me look forward to my commute. The writer carefully paints a vivid picture of the events leading to the tragedy, and from many points of view. We are assured the author based the narrative on testimony, letters and other solid evidence. Trusting that's so, we see yet again that truth truly is stranger than fiction. Who would have thought a captain would choose to never have a fire drill because he didn't want to inconvenience the passengers. Even though it was routine throughout the industry and the passengers actually found the experience rather fun, an exciting little adventure, a comfort to know everyone was prepared in the unlikely event of fire. And who would think it so important that all the woodwork throughout the ship be polished to a high gloss that they regularly soaked all the wood surfaces in an inflammable concoction. And the constellation of events that conspired to leave the ship in the hands of a rookie who didn't think to send out an SOS at the first sign of trouble or turn the vessel out of a 20 knot headwind that was fanning the flames. If this were a movie of a fictional account, I'd have walked out by now. But this is all historical fact. I recommend this one to history buffs.
I write my reviews under my wife Karen's account. Retired USN Russian linguist/analyst; actor; director; producer. Biography & History focus
I found this book a very interesting piece of history combined with a murder mystery. The author does a fine job of research and manages to bring all the pieces together in a murder mystery that also captures the period well. The narration is nicely done. I would rate this a 4 star if not for a couple of technical details that probably only bother me. While I wouldn't recommend this as a first choice, I still recommend it if nothing else tickles your fancy.
Yes, if they are nonfiction.
Defiinitely. He was excellent, especially in bringing to life various characters.
This book, to me, read somewhat in a similar vein as the story of the Titanic, of which I have not read books, but did see the movie and have read what popular press articles I came across, but with the exception that it was not told from the perspective of a passenger, but a crew member whose father was a career person in the management of cruise ships. The son had a passionate love of cruise ships and everything about them.
Other than that, it was just another story of a horrifying lack of anything resembling safety features, crew training, cruise ship building standards... all subjects that came to light even bigger time, with the sinking of the Titanic. It did display interestingly the politics of cruise ship management, the turf battles and such. It also touched on the issue of labor unions or lack thereof, and the frequently brutal persecution of union advocates.
In this account, there was a fire on the ship that started just hours after the captain keeled over and died in suspicious circumstances. From that point, all hell broke loose and the staff did not worry about anything other than saving their own lives.
A few things were disappointing to me in the listening to this story. The first is that to me, it seemed to take much too long to get started! I was subjected to entirely too much history of cruise ship building in general, and the Morro Castle in particular, and also the biographies of the various characters. I could have done without a lot of that background, especially because it seemed quite dryly written. It was just to be endured, until the action started.
The other main disappointment was that, while a lot of suspicions were raised regarding the death of the captain, and the setting of the fire, nothing was resolved. I felt the author should have offered something firm about these events, even if the offerings were only his studied opinions. I didn't feel he offered as much detail and research into these two things as might have been available. He did not even offer much in the way of the speculations or opinions of the time, that might have been available.Surely there would have been endless newspaper articles. There just seemed to be a big hole towards the end of the book, with these matters left hanging and not any satisfying possibilities offered to ease the reader's mind. It was frustrating to keep looking for this during the last third, or fourth, of the book and then fearing that there would be no resolution, which turned out to be the case.
All of that said, this WAS a pleasant listen, it did hold my interest all the way through, once I got started on the action phase. The narrator was excellent and this book gave him plenty of opportunities to showcase his talents. But if it is very meaty, complete, historical type research results you are looking for, you will not find it here. You will find a pleasant pastime for driving or doing light chores around the house and probably will not be disappointed.
I was looking for something that combined two of my interests true crime and history. I am not much
for present day crime but this looked good. It was fantastic! I sat down at 6.00 p.m. and was still
awake at 3.00 a.m. listening to it. (on a work night yet!) I couldn't wait to hear the end. One reviewer comments on technical difficulties but I hear none.I was not aware of this shipwreck but I am now
doing research and finding the layout of the ship etc makes it so much more real. Truly fascinating
book with twists and turns you will never believe and it is all true! Highly recommended! I am going
to buy the paper book now.
Some audio books come and go. The portrayal of the tragedy of the Morro Castle is suspenseful enough that it is worth listening to again.
An old broad that enjoys books of all types. Would rather read than write reviews though. I know what I like, and won't be bothered by crap.
If I run out of books, which I doubt, I would listen again. There is a lot of information in this book and I'm sure I missed some important things.
I liked the stories of the people whose lives were changed because of this tragedy. The young purser, the high school girl on her first trip and the men in the radio room.
The fire and death of the Captain were extremely interesting and the author goes to great lengths to explain them without much speculation. That is why I like true crime books.
He is a good narrator for true stories that make them sound like potboilers and film noir. I enjoyed his work.
I was very angry that the person most likely responsible for the crime was never prosecuted for it but happy that he is dead and gone now. However, had he been caught, several people he hurt later would have been much better off.
This is not an adventure book. It is detailed true history that follows the lives of a few characters. The construction details, the employees, the accident, the politics, J. Edgar Hoover, and trials. As I review the book in my mind, it indeed covers a lot from start to finish and the main characters are well developed making it more interesting as a documentary.
The story of the Morro Castle disaster (of which I heretofore knew nothing) was an amazing true American tale. Why was this not a part of American History class? We all know about the Titanic, but how many of us know about the Morro Castle tragedy? This is an excellent story, told very well by the author.
The narrator did a very good job with diction and annunciation, but I found that, listening to the book over a car audio system, his vocal intonations of the characters' quotes and spoken passages were not on the same listening level as the reading of the passages. As a result, I often had to adjust the sound levels; after a while, this became a bit of a chore, and detracted from the overall listening experience.
Yes, in fact I would often try to listen to it in "snippets", doing chores, cooking, etc. (while I usually listen to audio books while driving to work).
This was an excellent tale, and very well written. The narrator did a good job, but, perhaps, the technical production needs to be "tweaked" so the listening levels are more fluid. Overall, a very worthwhile purchase!
Vassar graduate, living in Mexico and retired.
From the very beginning and through out the Narrator over emphasizes every word. When emphasis is actually appropriate he shouts. I will not purchase another book read by this person.
I was, however, able to tolerate the reading and thus give it two stars.
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