• When The Dancing Stopped

  • The Real Story of the Morro Castle Disaster and Its Deadly Wake
  • By: Brian Hicks
  • Narrated by: Dick Hill
  • Length: 12 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Release date: 10-26-06
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio
  • 4.0 (164 ratings)

Regular price: $24.49

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Publisher's Summary

In the best-selling tradition of The Devil in the White City, award-winning author Brian Hicks tells the explosive story of the Morro Castle, the elegant luxury ocean liner that burned off the coast of New Jersey on September 7, 1934.

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.

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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Story

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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Real life murder mystery!

Would you listen to When The Dancing Stopped again? Why?

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.

What did you like best about this story?

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. <br/><br/>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. <br/><br/>

What about Dick Hill’s performance did you like?

He is a good narrator for true stories that make them sound like potboilers and film noir. I enjoyed his work.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Fascinating story!

What made the experience of listening to When The Dancing Stopped the most enjoyable?

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.

What three words best describe Dick Hill’s performance?

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.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

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).

Any additional comments?

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!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
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  • Story

The state of cruise ships, before the Titanic sank

Would you try another book from Brian Hicks and/or Dick Hill?

Yes, if they are nonfiction.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Dick Hill?

Defiinitely. He was excellent, especially in bringing to life various characters.

Any additional comments?

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.<br/><br/>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.<br/><br/>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.<br/><br/>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.<br/><br/>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. <br/><br/>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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Superb book

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Susan
  • Atlanta, GA, United States
  • 01-28-11

Gripping account of a needless disaster.

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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Mystery & Murder Cruise

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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Excellent historical account

I was amazed how the book read like a novel, but was still true to fact. A great read!

  • Overall
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Great book. Rough production

I was pretty familiar with the story but got lots of additional facts. THe story is presented in a fascinating minute by minute fashion. However, the sound of the narrator smacking lips, taking deep breaths, and flipping pages and shuffling was enough to make me have to turn it off multiple times.

  • Overall
  • Performance
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Very interesting story about a fairly unknown disaster

I really enjoyed the way of the story unfolded. I thought the characters were compelling and the way the author framed each of their storylines interesting. I thought the narrator did fine with the narration but that his voice characterizations all sounded a bit like Skipper from the Penguins of Madagascar.

  • Overall
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  • Story

Can we kill the exaggerated character voices ?

They are really annoying, unnecessary, all sound the same and detract from the performance. Other than that, this is a great true crime story, one I had never heard of.