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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Mighty Fitz: The Story of the Edmund Fitzgerald » User review

Superb reportage and history

  • Dec 12, 2005
Michael Schumacher is a gem. His writing style is economical, but hardly dry. His prodigous research of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald, a Great Lakes ore carrier that sank in a 1975 Lake Superior storm, shows in a detailed recitation of the ship, its building, crew, the dramatic power of lake storms, the sinking and its aftermath.

Like many people, my interest in the Fitzgerald was minimal: faint recollections of the news stories of the time and Gordon Lightfoot's ballad. Yes, when I saw the title, I thought Schumacher's book would be worth the read.

Schumacher, without ever appearing to do so, begins with dramatic flourish and keeps right on building through the very last page. He never engages in histrionic trickery. Never stoops to sensationalism of any kind. Never inserts his own opinions. He employs his skill as a writer to present the facts in a very spare way to heighten the drama. Schumacher is indeed brilliant: like the mason, he lays one unimposing brick of fact upon another until one at last sees not the individual bricks, but a stunning cathedral.

"Mighty Fitz" is an education in and of itself about Great Lakes shipping, the giant ore carriers that routinely ply their way across the waters, the frightening stormse that can roil the lakes, the men who crew these vessels and much more, including the opportunists who take advantage of tragedy to make a buck. The list is much longer, a testament to Schumacher's research and writing skills. Really, quite an extraordinary work and one well worth reading.


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Jerry Saperstein ()
Ranked #194
I am an e-discovery strategist, computer forensics specialist and testifying expert witness - and an avid reader.      Aside from technology books, I love thrillers, suspense, mystery, … more
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In honor of the 30th anniversary of the sinking of the Great Lakes ore carrierEdmund Fitzgerald, an event given lasting fame by singer Gordon Lightfoot's "The Wreck of theEdmund Fitzgerald," Schumacher recreates both the ship's final trip and the controversies that later eddied about the wreck's cause and the ultimate disposition of ship relics. Schumacher, biographer of Eric Clapton, Francis Ford Coppola and Allen Ginsberg, has also produced 25 documentaries about Great Lakes shipwrecks—an indication of his passion. Even as he dissects the rancorous disputes that arose among family members of the dead, historians and others seeking to either memorialize or exploit the shipwreck, Schumacher never fails to bring a sympathetic and knowledgeable view of the story, as well as great respect to the memory of the 29 crew members who died. Although some of the literary devices he employs are formulaic—the high school student being called from class to learn of the death of her father, for example—Schumacher, aided by his encyclopedic knowledge of Great Lakes shipwrecks and his abiding interest in telling an accurate, unsensationalized story makes them work in a rewarding narrative.(Nov.)
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ISBN-10: 158234647X
ISBN-13: 978-1582346472
Author: Michael Schumacher
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA

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"Superb reportage and history"
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