Monsarrat, Nicholas The Cruel Sea
A masterpieces of World War 2 sea fiction. Monsarrat's gripping, moving chronicle of convoy life as seen through the eyes of the men who manned the British navy ships detailed to escort merchant vessels across the North Atlantic, on the Murmansk Run and into the Mediterranean. Monsarrat's human characters are sympathetically drawn, with individual losses greatly affecting. And his ships -- particularly the brave corvette COMPASS ROSE -- spring to life in such a masterly manner that they, too, become fully drawn characters in their own right.
A beautifully written review of the novel which appeared in the Sept. 1951issue of Atlantic Monthly magazine noted at the time:
“The author is accurate and honest in his self-analysis. The women in this book do not count save as symbols of love, loyalty or gratification left ashore. What he is writing about is the binding force of watchful men, manning the bridge on filthy nights, how to pick up survivors, how to stalk and counterattack the U-boats, how to bury the dead and ‘how to die without wasting anyone’s time.’ ... The story is a long stretch of powerful episodes, some of them almost more gruesome than one can bear, as when the skeletons are sighted lashed to the drifting raft. But the inner filling and dominant quality of this sturdy novel is compassion. You see the men in strength and in weakness, in laughter and in reverie, and facing death; and it is in the manliness in them that makes you proud and stirs your pity as you read.”
Monsarrat’s novel was later (1953) turned into a documentary-style film, with a screenplay by Eric Ambler. Note that a “condensation of one section of The Cruel Sea” also appeared in The Atlantic Monthly at the time of the novel’s publication in the United States:
"The Cruel Sea." In: The Atlantic Monthly, vol. 188, no. 2, Aug. 1951, pp. 21-35.