The Cruel Sea: a Voyage of the Heart

I don't often post about books on my reading list, but as I turned the last page of The Cruel Sea, by Nicholas Monsarrat today, tears welled up.  He had given me a taste of the pity of war.  I have read many novels about the Battle of the Atlantic in the last few months.  If I had to recommend one, it would be The Cruel Sea.

Monsarrat was a journalist who had already written several novels when the war began.  He joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, and commanded a frigate at the war's end.  He entered the British diplomatic service after the war, and continued to write.

Dudley Pope's Convoy and Decoy are also very well-written, but are driven by a "suspense" plot device.  Alexander Fullerton's Nicholas Everard novels are best at putting you on the bridge of a WWII British naval ship.  Philip McCutchan's Convoy series was written more from the merchant marine point-of-view, and tends to rely on "bad guys" for drama.  Douglas Reeman is well worth reading, especially The Destroyers.

Pope, Fullerton, McCutchan and Reeman were sailors who put pen to paper.  Monsarrat was a writer who went to sea when duty called.  The Cruel Sea is a literary catharsis, a summing up of what a man and his shipmates endured in six years at sea in wartime.

1 comment:

M.Clarke said...

While I enjoyed the cruel sea and have read it many times, I believe Mr Monsarrat was quite bigoted in his references to Ireland and his remarks about being a Catholic. I agree Ireland could and should have done more, but I also know many many Irish men fought on the side of the allies.