A review by Ken Kuhlken
I taught longest at two colleges, the University of Arizona and California State University, Chico. Both places I got assigned to offices with guys whose friendships I treasure. In Arizona, my office partner was Suresh Raval, originally from India, a brilliant scholar who became a dear friend. In Chico, my office partner was Michael Baumann, a refugee as a child from Nazi Germany who became an expert on the novelist B. Traven, another refugee from Germany who lived in and wrote mostly about Mexico. Michael assured me that Traven was Ret Marut, a socio/anarchist who had fled Germany on account reactions to his writing. And, Michael assured me based on linguistic and societal analysis, Marut didn’t write all the B. Traven novels on his own. At least The Death Ship and maybe also The Treasure of the Sierra Madre were at least co-authored by an American. Meaning Marut had either stolen from or teamed with this American.
When my Tom Hickey novels required me to give some answers about what became of Tom’s father, who disappeared when Tom was five-years-old, as I pondered that mystery, I realized realize that Charlie, the missing father, was the American mentioned above. His story came to life in The Good Know Nothing, which all mystery, history, or literature fans should certainly read.
But I am writing here to recommend The Death Ship, a very favorite novel of mine, such a favorite that I am upset it’s not available in ebook. I hope to fix that problem. The story is: a merchant seaman gets stranded in Europe without his papers during the crazy years just after World War I when nations had begun to consider their borders sacred and believe people should not dare step over them without suffering financial or personal tragedy. B. Traven’s The Death Ship is a thoroughly absorbing, delightful, and memorable story. Please read it.