Synopses & Reviews
During the evening of October 4, 1980, in the Pacific Ocean nearly 330 miles from Valdez, Alaska, a fire engulfed the engine room of the Prinsendam, a Holland America cruise ship carrying 320 passengers, most of them elderly. As the fire raged out of control, the ships captain faced the most dire decision of his career: Could he give the order to abandon ship in the face of a typhoon bearing down on the Prinsendams position? The story of this disaster at sea, and of the near-miraculous rescue that ensued, is recounted in heart-stopping detail in this powerful book. Drawing on extensive interviews with passengers, crew, and coast guardsmen, combined with exhaustive research, Saving the Prinsendam brings to life the last moments of the doomed cruise ship and the heroic efforts of the Coast Guardsmen who managed to transport every passenger to safety before the Prinsendam rolled and slid bow-first to the bottom on October 11. Told in the hour-by-hour style of Walter Lord's Titanic classic: A Night to Remember, the book recreates the drama of one of the most memorableand successfulrescue operations ever to be conducted at sea.
"In October 1980, the Holland America cruise ship Prinsendam rolled over on her starboard side and sank in 1,473 fathoms of icy water in the Gulf of Alaska. Amazingly, none of the 320 passengers or 190 crew went down with her, recounts Jeffers (The 1,000 Greatest Heroes) in this workmanlike account of disaster and rescue on the high seas. After a fire broke out in the vessel's engine room and spread unchecked, everyone aboard was forced to abandon ship in a rising gale. Through the heroic efforts of the U.S. Coast Guard, whom Jeffers affectionately calls 'Coasties,' the evacuation resulted in no lives lost. While the story is laden with built-in drama, the prose is deadened with banal clichs: 'Still unwilling to meet her maker just yet, Jeanie Gilmore was increasingly concerned about so much thick, black, acrid smoke.' Jeffers has done a tremendous amount of research and the tale is packed with detail, but in his mundane recounting, the story fails to take off. 32 b&w photos not seen by PW. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Booklist, March 4, 2006
“Maritime buffs of every variety will enjoy [Burning Cold], not least for recounting a story that shows the Coast Guard at its best.”
Sport Aviation, May 2006 (circ.: 150,000)
“Burning Cold highlights how superb technology and the Coast Guard’s time-tested rescue skills, daring bravery, and undaunted spirit were combined to save more than 500 people. It is the story of one military branch that is constantly training and prepared to help with disasters at sea, as well as the story of innovation and visionary leaders who saw the need to protect passengers at sea.”