"Mighty Fitz: The Story of the Edmund Fitzgerald " arrived on the shelves of our local library in early December. It has already been checked out 9 or 10 times indicating to me that there is still a remarkable level of interest in trying to ascertain just what happened to the Edmund Fitzgerald on that stormy November day three decades ago. Unlike some of the other reviewers I had not read anything about the Fitz prior to this. I must admit that at times I was absolutely spellbound by author Michael Schumacher's chilling account of the demise of this formidable vessel. For those unfamiliar with the history of Great Lakes shipwrecks "Mighty Fitz" offers a crash course on the subject.
Michael Schumacher has devoted much of his adult life to studying these wrecks. You will discover the circumstances surrounding the sinking of the Carl D. Bradley and the Daniel J Morrell in the late 1950's. And when you read the account of the great storm that claimed some 30 ships over a three day period in late November 1905 you will come to understand the powerful forces of nature that the Edmund Fitzgerald was up against back in 1975.
The fact of the matter is that there are still a lot of unanswered questions as to why the Edmund Fitzgerald plunged to the bottom of Lake Superior. Was it human error? Had the crew been negligent in securing the ship? Was there too much weight on board? What about the possibility that the Fitz was structurally unsound? Or did Captain McSorley make a fatal navigational error when he took the vessel too close to the Six Fathom Shoal? "Mighty Fitz" explores each of these possibilities and many others in great detail. Michael Schumacher also discusses the continuing odyssey of attempts to get to the bottom of the Edmund Fitzgerald tragedy. There are so many competing interests at play here. Family members want to ban further exploration of the wreckage and designate the site off-limits to everyone. And as new technologies emerge others are bound and determined to discover once and for all just what happened to the Edmund Fitzgerald. The truth is that there are compelling arguments on both sides of these issues.
I found "Mighty Fitz: The Story of the Edmund Fitzgerald " to be a very well-written and entertaining book. It is clear that Michael Schumacher is passionate about his subject. If I were to offer any criticism of this book it is that the lack of any kind of maps was a big drawback. Had such illustrations been included I don't think I would have had any trouble rating "Mighty Fitz" at least a +4. It comes awfully close anyway. Highly recommended.
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