The Lost Fleet

It's the mid-19th century and the American whaling fleet, the wonder and envy of the maritime nations of the world, is struck by one hammer blow after another. Yankee whalers are contending with icebergs, storms, rogue whales, sharks, hostile natives, and disease. Now conditions are getting even worse, and the chances become ever slimmer a whaling master and his crew will return from a voyage safe and profitable. The scarcity of whales, the increasing dangers of going further into the Arctic, and the roving Confederate privateers are making this already difficult profession ever riskier. Many whalers give up the life — but some carry on the vocation.One such man is a tall captain from Wethersfield, Connecticut, Thomas William Williams. Not only does he go out on voyage after voyage, but he even takes on board with him his tiny wife, Eliza, and his infant son and daughter. The Lost Fleet's thrilling narrative recounts Williams' remarkable career, including a daring escape from the Confederate cruiser Alabama and a daring rescue and salvage of lost ships off Alaska's coast. A family saga, a true narrative of adventure and death on the high seas and a detailed and well-researched look at the demise of Yankee whaling–Songini has crafted an historical masterpiece.

DISCLAIMER: The content of this site consists of my own personal opinions (and occasionally the opinions of others) and does not officially represent my employer's view in any way.

September 05, 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Blog

I rarely ever mix my business writing with my personal scribblings. My writings on my website and personal blog and other social media reflect my opinions only and not my employer's point of view. However, the below is kind of an interesting piece and touches on some history. So I'll offer the first paragraph and a link to the original blog I wrote–if you want to continue.

Here goes:

Looking for an example of ironclad encryption? Then think back about seven decades ago to World War II, the battle of the Pacific in particular. It was there that U.S. Marines deployed native Navajo-speakers to encrypt commands and reports on the battlefield.

In fact, just last month one of the last survivors of the original volunteer encryption unit passed on, as an article in the Economist points out. (You may recall the movie “Windtalkers,” with Nicolas Cage, which covered the subject.) To finish the blog, click here.

September 02, 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Blog

The Fall River "Herald News" on "Boston Mob": The men in it remained small even when the sums became fairly large. All too true.

September 01, 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Blog

Caught "Godzilla" and naturally, the A-bomb issue came up. Some people think there was something inevitable about the A-bomb drops. Nope. Not even clear if that was what really made Japan capitulate. Firebombing Japanese cities–paper and wood built–killed more people and truly was about as horrible as the A-bombs. In fact…given the total horror of WWII, those bombs, originally, just blended into the general awful genocidal wallpaper.

August 28, 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Blog

Can a rodent achieve tragic grandeur? A skunk on Rt. 128 smashed into a small tuft of thought offered the incense of revenge to the hundreds and thousands squashing him into the pavement. Ahab, anyone? The skunk was reaching out past the grave to punish the bipeds that had curtailed his life so abruptly….Then again, he (or she) may have been a suicide….A suicide skunk. There's a scary thought.

August 24, 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Blog

Sunday, 10:30 a.m., sunny, no wind, dry air. The deportment of the small but sober looking crowd in the parking lot in the cool air at Fort Wetherill in Rhode Island said either: A) funeral; or B) religious service. Perhaps the two were a bit one.

As more cars parked and people stepped out for greeting, the handshakes, the hugs, the tears were unmistakable. Funeral. I knew where this group would go–the nearby natural exalted rock stage where there is a view of the Atlantic and of Newport that money can't buy. Not a more grand sight in New England. So, I had to huddle with the little guy and wife in the uncomfortable rocks by the side of the cliff we had been going to sit on…I am sensitive to these things.

The mourners filed onto the cliff. More tears; some dropped flowers into the outgoing tide 40 feet below; I saw what I took to be a small urn pass hands.

My brain's opera hall echoed with a strain from neolithic times; to peat bogs in North Europe; to sad apes trying to piece something together after a death. Judging by the old woman lacking a man, receiving deference, the ashes being handed off, perhaps, had been a grandfather. A sire of mighty children? Or perhaps he'd been a fool. Or a mix of the twain. I don't know. But looking at the expanse of ocean, I thought the gesture of the flowers indescribably sad and lovely.

Then a small unlovely fisherman, pole in hand, in red cap and jeans, broke into the tribal congregation. "Gonna bring me some luck?" he asked. I assume he didn't read the signs–admittedly unwritten, though obvious. Then he took his perch in a cleft of the rock to ply his crude yet patient art.

How perfect.

A few months ago I attended a funeral service in a VFW hall. The man who'd passed had suffered terribly; was good and decent. His grandchildren were comfortable enough to play on and around his coffin, whose lid was up. The body stared up as the kids, who'd really loved him, went about their business of being children. I've never seen anything more lovely.

August 15, 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Blog

Those of you south of the border–as in Rhode Island border–if you aren't too busy Sunday, then come by and say hi to me at Bank Square Books. I'll be offering free beer to anyone I know who visits. Yes, you read that right. And we'll go see the "Charles Morgan" together.

July 27, 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Blog

The New York Daily News gave "The Boston Mob" a fair plug: Not a pretty story, but a fascinating one. Check out the review–it has a lot of photos and does a reasonable job of recounting the basics about Joe "The Animal" Barboza. The photos are priceless.

July 19, 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Blog

My next book is out by month's end. It's violent, sad, heartbreaking, real. In short, everything that a McDonald's Happy Meal is not. Check it out here. No, it is not another book about Whitey Bulger–a not very interesting man, I must add. It covers the rise of Raymond Patriarca, the don of the New England Mafia at the Dawn of the New England Mafia. It follows the basic decimation of Raymond's empire by Joe Barboza and the FBI. Did I mention it covers the multiple gang wars going on during the 1960s? Well it does quite a bit of that, too. More later.