Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

“None of the numerous coming-of-age memoirs, fictionalized accounts, or nonfiction historical books of sea-going adventures have captured my imagination as magically as David Paul Collins’ novel “Shanghaied,” based on his own true story as a merchant seaman.

Collins conveys an amazing depth of feeling in his portrayal of protagonist Jack Sligo. Written as a first person narrative, Jack relates the story of his brutal initiation into survival at sea. Spellbound by his Irish grandfather’s tales of adventure, Joseph Conrad’s “Lord Jim,” C. S. Forester’s “Horatio Hornblower,” and Richard Henry Dana’s “Two Years Before the Mast,” fifteen-year-old Jack Sligo dreams of traveling around the world as a part of the crew on a cruise ship.

Within days of the end of his sophomore year in high school, Jack quietly slips out of his bedroom to begin a summer adventure that changes his life. The first step in his plan was to register with the International Maritime Union in New York City to get a job on a US cruise ship. Because of Jack’s obvious youth, slight build, lack of experience and the necessary paperwork, he is escorted out (thrown) by the union’s representatives.

Persistent, Jack returned the next day, quietly found his way to the office of Bernie Callahan, the chief port agent who sent him on a wild goose chase to see a buddy in Mobile. Jack experienced another rejection. His first night in Mobile he found his way to Nellies Bar where two strangers buy him a powerful drink. Jack’s next memory is waking up on the on a 60,000 ton Liberian merchant ship, the SS Iron Prince, bound for South America.

Jack weaves in stories of real or imagined cannibal Indians along the banks of the Orinoco River in Venezuela, dozens of seas stories revealing the circumstances that led to how members of the ship’s crew ended up aboard the SS Iron Prince. He tells of his fear when caught in the eye of a ferocious storm at sea, facing hurricane force winds, as the ship and crew sails between Haiti and Cuba. He describes the panic, dangers, and rescue when the ship runs aground in the Orinoco River.

Jack tells of his homesickness, and of the important life lessons learns through his experiences; of how he learns the reality of hate and intolerance and the importance of courage, honesty, and patriotism.

Jack also relates lessons he learns from crew members concerned for his safety:

• Lessons in self-respect
• Lessons about judging others
• Lessons about accepting the will of God
• The call of the sea is never held back by fear.
• No man cheats another more than he cheats himself.

He learns to appreciate more fully the benefits of his personal opportunities, of parents, family, economic benefits, and education. He adjusts to the company of tough sailors left with insecurities as a result of never having the chance to go to school. Collins skillfully introduces broken English, with nuances of German, Tagalog, Norwegian, African, and Cayman Islanders into his dialog.

The inclusion of black and white photos and maps throughout the text and a comprehensive glossary of nautical terms add to the interest level and informative value of the book as a whole.

“Shanghaied” captured my imagination from the very first page – entertaining and informative – destined to become a classic in the genre of Adventures on the High Seas.” Richard R. Blake for Reader Views

Article first published as Book Review: Shanghaied by David Paul Collins on Blogcritics.

Kirkus Review

Posted: February 17, 2012 in David Paul Collins, Reviews, Shanghaied

Read the review of Shanghaied on 

David Collins and his book Shanghaied are currently being featured on “So Many Precious Book, So Little Time” TeddyRose blogspot.

Thanks to Lauren Taylor of Authoright PR, they are giving away one copy of Shanghaied.  To read the article and to enter the give-away visit here:

“At last a book that tells a modern sea story and introduces the public to the life of a Merchant Sailor. Many people will be shocked at the characters in this book but believe me they are real. As a Master Mariner any Ocean any Gross Tonnage I have sailed with these characters. They are true sailors, have no clear ties to home, drink, carouse and then sail the seven seas. Their narcotic is the sea. It hooks you. Despite all his problems our lead character is ready to “ship over” for another trip.

I have never read a book that so accurately describes these men of the sea. They sail under hard conditions, sober up at sea,when they hit port they draw their pay and hit the beach. In days they are broke and back on board. The author is a terrific writer and describes this life in detail. He has a lot of Joseph Conrad in him. He holds our attention with the adventures of his main character. There is no doubt in my mind that to be able to describe this life so well the author had to live a good part of it.”  Albert D. Wood

“For thirteen years, ForeWord has exclusively reviewed books from small presses for our readership of librarians, booksellers, and 125,000 website visitors”

“I loved Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad, seeing myself in his wonderful stories of faraway places, strange-looking people, and magnificent adventures. I wanted my own magnificent adventure, just like them.”

Jack Sligo, a fifteen-year-old Irish Catholic kid growing up in Boston in the 1950s, sneaks out of his home one night and hitchhikes to New York hoping to get a job on a ship to see the world. And he gets his wish, waking up on an African merchant ship bound for ports unknown, with no idea how he got aboard or if he’ll ever see home again.

Life at sea quickly turns out to be more effort and less fun then he had hoped, the backbreaking work leaving him sun burnt, callused, and eaten alive by mosquitoes. Still, even at the moments he wonders if the next painful tiring task will be his last, he thinks about the stories he’ll be able to bring back to his classmates, the money he’ll earn to take back to his parents, and the boasting he can do as a real-life sailor.

Shanghaied moves just slowly enough so a reader who doesn’t know a boat from a ship can pick up on the terminology and slang, but quick enough to convey the break-neck pace of working on a merchant ship. There are some wonderfully drawn action scenes, like the chaos on deck as the ship battles a hurricane. Still what draws a reader in is the diverse cast of characters Sligo meets on board, from the ship’s Bo’sun, who quickly gains Jack’s respect, to Winston, a boy who’s been on the ship since he was twelve and desperate to get back home to see his mother before she dies. He sees Jack as his brother, as they plot their escape together.

Sligo seems younger than fifteen in an accurate way, with the naivety about the world a young teen that had never left the insular community of his hometown would have. The novel touches on issues of race relations in the 1950s, and Sligo’s naïve indignation at the way his black shipmates are treated in a Southern diner is written perfectly, full of anger but mostly confusion about the situation.

Though this is the author’s first book, it is his first-hand experience, having been shanghaied aboard an African freighter, that makes the book come to life.

Fans of other sea-set teen novels like Avi’s The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle will like this book, which captures well the story of an utterly inexperienced kid being thrust into a situation he isn’t quite ready for, as well as the adventure he has in exploring new countries and learning to survive on the open sea.”

Molly Horan
January 6, 2012

“Shanghaied is a colorfully-written coming-of-age story about a young boy who was abducted from the docks of Mobile, Alabama and ended up aboard a transport ship bound for South America. If this book was nothing more than pure fiction, it would be a wonderful romp of a read, full of high seas and adventure. That it is based on a true story complete with historical maritime pictures, makes it all the more compelling.

David Collins has done a beautiful job of rendering characters who step out of the page and into our lives. His innate sense of story and dialogue paint a vivid picture of a sailor’s life in the 1950s. Collins pulls no punches in his storytelling–we see the good and the bad in his characters, but mostly we see that they are all composed of myriad shades of gray as deep and as mysterious as the sea herself. This is a story that rings true on all levels.”  Kimberly Brower Keilbach

More twists than Lombard Street

Posted: December 13, 2011 in Reviews, Shanghaied

“Finished the engaging page-turner tonight on NY-LA flight… excellent writer! With more twists than Lombard Street and suspense to match, I can’t wait for the movie (seriously). What wonderful entertainment as truth trumps fiction once again!” Dan McClory