Readers of these pages will no doubt recognize the author of Myth, Fact, and Navigators’ Secrets as the long-time writer of the quirky nautical history column “Looking Astern.” Dill’s passion for oddball maritime tales blossoms in this book. He details adventures and misadventures alike in his collection of short stories – sometimes humorous, sometimes tragic.
He describes the origins of maritime firsts (submarines, aircraft carriers, flying boats) and notable historical figures such as the debaucherous Samuel Pepys, the honorable-to-the-end naval captains of the War of 1812, the strange story of the original Henry Morgan and innovations in nautical science.
Dill’s vast knowledge of maritime history provides a synthesis to the tales, making each story seem as though it were an integral part of an absurdist novel. But each story is true, and that’s the magic.
Lyons Press; 209 pages; $14.95.