Title: Skeleton Coast
Authors: John H. Marsh; Lyman Anson
Edition: Quality Book Club Edition
Genre: Naval History
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
London, Great Britain 1958
Original cloth binding and dustcover, 14 x 21 cm, 268 pages, 10 b/w photographs
Good. The original dustcover with minor tears on the spine is well preserved. Inside clean, only few smaller stains on endpaper, half-tilte and title.
The facts in Skeleton Coast were gathered in 1944 by John H. Marsh, a Cape Town journalist, from interviews and official records. The result was a slender historical account of one of war's remarkable shipwrecks on a far coast in South West Africa. Lyman Anson, in the edition of 1958, expanded the story about the wrecking of the Dunedin Star on the Skeleton Coast, developed its characters into vivid, rounded human beings, gave its four widely-separated narratives a unity not possible in a strictly reportorial account. The basic events of the story are told just as they happened. With the exception of Miss Klink-Stone and C. Clarence Bullen and one or two more minor personages, all the characters are real people with their correct names and positions in life. Bullen and Miss Klink-Stone are amalgams of actual persons it was Lyman Anson's misfortune once to meet on shipboard. Their memory cried so insistently to be included among the Dunedin Star's real passengers that the author couldn't resist. Most of the dialogue is, of course, fictitious, yet all of it is based on sound evidence. Before starting to recreate the story, the author was lucky to obtain, with John Marsh's generous help, important information from many more of the survivors than were originally available to him. This was notably true in securing Dr. Burn Wood's invaluable memoirs, Captain Smith's colorful diary of his overland convoy experience, and a hundred vivid little touches gleaned from letters received from six or eight other survivors. If the book leaves the reader feeling that he too was shipwrecked on Skeleton Coast, scorching his feet on the white-hot sand, craving endless drinks of cool water, watching help appear and vanish, joking to save his sanity, shrinking from the slimy grip of unseen devilfish, it is only that he has played a role, however vicarious, in one of the lesser-known dramas of the sea.