Simple Courage

Why am I excited about Simple Courage: The True Story of Peril on the Sea?

Not only is it a ripping good yarn about Captain Kurt Carlsen of the  S.S. Flying Enterprise; it doubles as a memoir of Delaney’s Irish childhood, his fascination with all things nautical, and the effect the news of this ship in peril had on his family. 

Above all, I love this book because of words.  Frank Delaney loves words.  Fathom used to mean embrace; season, seed and sow all share the same root; to list, to tilt unwantedly comes from the same word for lust or inclination…that sort of word lore charges my batteries.  And it abounds in this book.

I treasure this book for the phrases: slapped and slopped; pound and expound; aggression and transgression; hard but not hurtful.

Words and phrases turn into sentences.  Delaney can explain unfamiliar nautical situations with ease.  He writes simple sentences that are profound in their simplicity.

He made sure to eat to strengthen his body and
he made sure to sleep to strengthen his mind.


He had the rare gift of keeping friendships
in good repair over the years. 


Good bos’uns work like magpies.  They gather seemingly
randoms objects and store them.  Later on, they press them
into service for stowage, dunnage, all sorts of purposes. 

The story takes place in 1951 when the sensibilities of the culture did not lean towards protecting yourself from legal liability and risk.  It tells of the character of one man who took his responsibilities as captain seriously, who did all he could to bring a crippled, listing ship back to harbor.

Simple Courage: The True Story of Peril on the Sea is roughly divided into three parts: the story of the shipwreck, the investigation, and the author’s personal response.  The shipwreck and rescue are riveting; the investigation a necessary but less absorbing story.  I found the author’s examination of his own fascination intriguing.  Father hunger is epidemic. 

If it is at all possible, listen to this book.   Ask your librarian to get the audio book.  At the moment, you can buy the audio edition used at Amazon for $10 + $4 shipping.  Look into library downloads.  People!  If my small town library in the middle of nowhere has library downloads, many of yours do.  I have not used, but there is another option. 

Why all the fuss?  Because Delaney, himself, reads the book in lilting Irish brogue.  It will melt you.  Still don’t believe me?  Go here or here and listen!

More books reviews here.


4 thoughts on “Simple Courage

  1. Our library doesn’t have it – either on CD, or downloadable. I’ll have to add it to my Amazon wish list. I loved his novel, Ireland, but that’s the only thing by Delaney I’ve read so far.Carrie

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