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The Black Tanker by Howard Pease
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The Black Tanker

by Howard Pease

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What starts off as a standard Pease adventure tale veers off the tracks in the last 60 pages and turns into a diatribe haranguing the public about US economic policy toward Japan.
This is originally published in 1941 and the bee in Pease's bonnet is the sale of war material to the Japanese by the supposedly neutral US. Even recognizing that Pease was a West Coast native I don't see how this is more of a concern to an author of civilian nautical adventures than the active war in the Atlantic Ocean with merchant marines losing their live daily to German U-boats. For those untutored in history, it was the very thing that Pease seeks - an end to the sale of material to the Japanese - that precipitated their attack on Pearl Harbor, hastening our entry in to both theatres of the war. Seeing how he loudly and often has his main character states that he is a pacifist - like all "right thinking college educated people" - the ignorance of his position in hindsight becomes all the more laughable.

Regardless, the actual narrative portion of the story holds up with any of his best. The new setting - an oil tanker as opposed to a cargo carrier - affords him the opportunity to keep his formula fresh even while all the parts remain familiar - i.e. who was that stranger who is up to no good? only the new recruit can be trusted to help the captain solve the mystery, even if it involves surreptitiously trailing experienced seamen in a foreign port our protagonist has never been to before. ( )
  bensdad00 | Jan 10, 2017 |
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