Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Book Review:

In 1958, broke and in the middle of a custody battle for his four kids by his second wife, Hayden sets sail for Tahiti aboard a schooner which is his last remaining asset. He does so in defiance of the family court judge and in abrogation of his contract with the movie studio. This book narrates that trip, and the narration is interspersed with tales of his life growing up, from a depression-era childhood, moving from place to place with a deadbeat stepfather, to jobs aboard the Gloucester fishing fleet, starting out as a deckhand. Working his way quickly up to mate and then master. In 1938, at the age of 22, he captained a square-rigged sailing ship from Gloucester to Tahiti, a distance of 7700 miles. A ship owner who liked him got him an interview with a movie studio and by 1941, he was in Hollywood, making movies and marrying then-famous actress Madeleine Carroll.

He chucked his movie career to get involved in World War Two, enlisting in the Marines. He was quickly selected for Officer Candidate School and then assigned to the OSS, which sent him to Italy to run sailing ships past the German navy to supply Yugoslav partisans.

Returning from the war, he picked up his movie career, divorced Carroll, and joined the Communist Party, a short-lived venture that would eventually have him testifying before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee. Unhappy with his Hollywood life, he took to the sea again aboard his boat, children in tow.
This is a book about a fascinating man who grew up and lived in fascinating times and did fascinating things. It seemed like he succeeded at everything he set his hand to, but he was never happy and usually walked away right at the peak of things. But he set the story of this part of his life to paper on his return and it's definitely worth the read.

Sometimes, you can accomplish everything and still have nothing. Sterling Hayden shows us how that's possible.

Buy the book here in Amazon


  1. Thank you. I didn't know this book existed. It is a definite read for me.

  2. Anonymous10:13 PM

    I need to check this book out.

  3. Read Count Luckner the Sea Devil. He was a Lt. Commander in German Navy in WW1. Sea raider using an captured American Clipper ship.

    I have his singed book. Written in 1927. Oh, and he did NOT like Hitler and he did NOT join with them. In fact near end of WW2 he found a passport in the rubble of a building and gave it to a Jewish woman to escape with.