Tag Archives: Suez Canal

No man will be a sailor who has contrivance enough to get himself into a jail; for being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned… a man in a jail has more room, better food, and commonly better company… Samuel Johnson

The Colombo Bay New York : Simon & Schuster, c 2004      Richard Pollak Container ships, Colombo Bay (Ship) Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. 260 p. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text.  VG/VG   

In the face of killer storms, fires, piracy, and terrorism, container ships the length of city blocks and more than a dozen stories high carry 90 percent of the worlds trade. This is an account of one ship’s voyage and of the sailors who daily risk their lives to deliver six million containers a year to United States ports alone. Inside these twenty-foot and forty-foot steel boxes are the thousands of imports – from chinos and Game Boys to garlic and frozen shrimp – without which North America’s consumer society would collapse.

To explore this little-known and dangerous universe of modern seafaring, Pollak joined the Colombo Bay in Hong Kong and over the next five weeks sailed with her and her 3,500 containers across the South China Sea, the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean, and the Atlantic. En route, this mammoth vessel called at Singapore and Colombo, passed through the Suez Canal (toll: $250,000), then put in at Malta and Halifax before tangling with Hurricane Karen on the two-day run to New York. Here is the story of the ship’s twenty-four-man company; of the British captain, Peter Davies, a veteran of four decades at sea; of Federico Castrojas, who like the rest of the Filipino crew must daily confront the loneliness of being away from his family for nine months at a stretch; of Simon Westall, the twenty-one-year-old third mate, who reveals what it is in the world of the merchant service for the young and untried.

It is a world where pirates in the Malacca Strait sneak up behind ships at night in fast power boats, then clamber aboard and either rob the unarmed sailors at gunpoint and escape into the dark or throw the crew into the sea and hijack the ship, plundering her cargo and sometimes repainting her and setting out to do business under another name and flag. It is a world where families desperate to get to the United States or Europe pay thousands of dollars to the Chinese Snakeheads and other criminal gangs, who secrete these wretched migrants in stifling containers; after a week or more at sea these stowaways arrive in the Promised Land either starving or dead.

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Thou who didst waken from his summer dreams The blue Mediterranean

The bitter sea : the struggle for mastery in the Mediterranean, 1935-1949       Simon Ball World War 1939-1945 Campaigns Mediterranean Region London : HarperPress, 2009 Book.     xxxv, 380 p., [16] p. of plates : ill., maps, ports. ; 25 cm.  Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text.  Be sure and read the extended description at our head listing. VG  

A gripping history of the Mediterranean campaigns from the first rumblings of conflict through the Second World War and into the uneasy peace of the late 1940’s.In the 1930’s the British commanded the Mediterranean as the world’s great thoroughfare, from Gibraltar in the west to the Suez Canal in the east. To the Americans, it represented the answer to anti-imperialism and to Mussolini it encapsulated his violent vision of conquest his “Mare Nostrum“.

In the ensuing war that raged, the blue waters of the Mediterranean and the surrounding nations witnessed an epic and brutal conflict between enemies and allies alike. Based on the most up-to-date research, including newly-released intelligence dossiers,  The Bitter Sea uncovers the implications of a multitude of plans, dominated by the war’s most illustrious decision makers.

This was total war a long drawn-out battles on land, sea and air, from the Italian air force‘s role in the Spanish Civil War, the siege of Malta, the menace of the U-boat and insurgency in Palestine and Cairo, to Allied victory in El Alamein and the terrifying desert campaigns of North Africa. As the author demonstrates in this fascinating narrative history, the Mediterranean was indeed ‘the Bitter Sea’

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