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A List To Starboard 1909   By: (1838-1915)

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A List To Starboard 1909 by Francis Hopkinson Smith is a captivating historical novel that delves into the thrilling world of shipwrecks and survival. Set in the early 20th century, the story takes us on an unforgettable journey through treacherous waters and harrowing circumstances.

The narrative follows a diverse group of passengers on the ill-fated SS Valiant, a luxurious ocean liner sailing from Liverpool to New York. As fate would have it, the ship encounters a violent storm that tests both the vessel's strength and the characters' resolve. Amidst the chaos, the Valiant gets struck by a massive wave, causing a catastrophic list to starboard.

Smith's attention to detail is remarkable; his vivid descriptions of the ship's architecture and the diverse characters on board bring the story to life. Each passenger, from the brave and resourceful to the self-serving and cowardly, adds a layer of complexity to the narrative. This cast of characters ensures that readers remain engaged, wondering who will succumb to panic and who will rise to the challenge.

The author's knowledge of naval history is apparent throughout the book, as he expertly portrays the technicalities of a disaster at sea. From the riveting descriptions of the ship's listing to the frantic scramble for lifeboats, Smith's ability to create tension and suspense keeps readers on the edge of their seats. Furthermore, his seamless incorporation of nautical terms and procedures adds an authentic touch, immersing us in the perilous world of maritime survival.

The pace of the novel is steady, allowing for the development of relationships and personal journeys amidst the chaos. Moments of fear and desperation are balanced with heartwarming acts of bravery and selflessness, emphasizing the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

While the story primarily explores the immediate aftermath of the wreck, Smith also delves into the broader themes of human nature, morality, and class divisions. The passengers' interactions reveal the true nature of each character and the lengths they'll go to ensure their own survival, sometimes at the expense of others. This exploration of humanity's darker aspects adds depth to the narrative and prompts readers to reflect on their own values and integrity.

A List To Starboard 1909 is a masterfully written tale of tragedy, courage, and the endurance of the human spirit. Smith's vivid storytelling and meticulous attention to detail create an immersive experience, allowing readers to witness the chaos and fear that accompany a shipwreck. By blending historical accuracy with well-developed characters, the author crafts an enthralling narrative that will keep readers captivated from beginning to end.

In conclusion, A List To Starboard 1909 is a must-read for fans of historical fiction, survival stories, and maritime adventures. Francis Hopkinson Smith's compelling prose and expert storytelling make this novel an unforgettable and emotional reading experience. Prepare to be transported to the turbulent seas and struggle alongside the characters as they fight for their lives and a chance at salvation.

First Page:


By F. Hopkinson Smith



A short, square chunk of a man walked into a shipping office on the East Side, and inquired for the Manager of the Line. He had kindly blue eyes, a stub nose, and a mouth that shut to like a rat trap, and stayed shut. Under his chin hung a pair of half moon whiskers which framed his weather beaten face as a spike collar frames a dog's.

"You don't want to send this vessel to sea again," blurted out the chunk. "She ought to go to the dry dock. Her boats haven't had a brushful of paint for a year; her boilers are caked clear to her top flues, and her pumps won't take care of her bilge water. Charter something else and lay her up."

The Manager turned in his revolving chair and faced him. He was the opposite of the Captain in weight, length, and thickness a slim, well groomed, puffy cheeked man of sixty with a pair of uncertain, badly aimed eyes and a voice like the purr of a cat.

"Oh, my dear Captain, you surely don't mean what you say. She is perfectly seaworthy and sound. Just look at her inspection " and he passed him the certificate.

"No I don't want to see it! I know 'em by heart: it's a lie, whatever it says. Give an inspector twenty dollars and he's stone blind."

The Manager laughed softly. He had handled too many rebellious captains in his time; they all had a protest of some kind it was either the crew, or the grub, or the coal, or the way she was stowed... Continue reading book >>

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