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On sale

4th December 2003

Price: £8.99

Selected:  Paperback / ISBN-13: 9780349105697

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A boat of the army transportation corps fights through the fierce wind of the williwaw, carrying two officers and a chaplain with its crew. Human nature and the elements move the men through their uncertain destiny. This is Gore Vidal’s first novel. Written when he was just seventeen and based very strongly on his own traumatic experiences in the US Navy as WW2 reached its end, this is a compelling story of one young man’s bravery under fire.


Vidal's episodic structure rachets up the tension; his prose is sparse and elemental. There are calms, too, as incantory as a shipping forecast in this brief, unforgettable voyage.
He had spent the two years in the Aleutian Islands crewing on US Army freight-supplying ships, an experience he distilled into a novel in nascent possession of the wit, elegantly uncluttered writing and keen intellect that have come to characterise his long career.