Hollow Sea by James Hanley. 1st Edition. Hardback. The Bodley Head, 1938.
A realistic account of a journey of a military ship during World War I. The ship sets out carrying a large amount of troops to North Africa. While unloading the troops, the ship is attacked. While the main ship is relatively unscathed, some of the boats used to offload the troops are hit and there are many men killed and wounded, including some of the crew. The ship is ordered to immediately withdraw (carrying the wounded and dead troops that are still on board).
The plot is simple but Hanley’s skill is to give us the full details of this story through the eyes of many of the key players. We see the story from the point of view of the ordinary seamen, who feel that they are being ill-treated, with the war as an excuse for exploitation but who do their job, while looking to get away with whatever they can. We see the steward, eager to get his cut by selling the ship’s food on shore, but determined not to let anyone else make money out of selling his food. We see the troubled captain, determined to do his duty even though he, like the men, finds the orders at times incomprehensible. Hanley gives a detailed and realistic portrait of the men on a ship, their hopes and fears and the daily problems they face.
Condition: Hardback. Green cloth-covered boards. Cloth covering a little worn on spine. No dustjacket Very clean inside. Owner inscription.