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"The Mathews Men" is a fine tribute to merchant mariners and to the sacrifice of one small county. While the subtitle to the book says it's about seven brothers, it isn't really. Don't expect something about one valiant family and seven brave brothers; don't expect "Unbroken" with seven young men to root for. Rather, it's a compilation of the heroic endeavors of a community of men and their families, a history of the heroic endeavors of the merchant mariners.
This is research at its humane best. What happened to these young men is extraordinary, and Geroux writes so well we're right there with them as horrors and heroism and freak coincidences of man and nature occur: torpedoes slamming into the boat, oil slicks causing the sun to scorch skin, surviving a harrowing blockade run only to be engulfed in a more harrowing storm, one mariner giving up his place on a lifeboat so that another, desperately injured, has a place out of the water.
There are lifeboats galore in this book because the mariners were at the mercy of the U-boats, forsaken by the military, forsaken by Congress. They went by the book, "How to Abandon Ship" as their guide (seriously, it's scary), and went by the leadership of their captains.
While the text is utterly fascinating and engaging, I found Arthur Morey's narration to be a tad grating, as in slow and plodding. He works MUCH better at x1.25 speed, the book flows much better, the action is more breathless. Plus, he has an annoying tendency to attempt accents that are laughably halfhearted, or unfortunately offensive (see: Filipino nurse...). But at least he doesn't detract from a really good story.
And, yes, this is a good story, and I feel ashamed that neither I, nor my nation, has honored these men.
Until now... Fine job, Mr. Geroux. Thank you...
20 of 23 people found this review helpful
Sadly, too, our government has not done right by these brave men and their families.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful