“Alive on the Andrea Doria!” & mdash; Reviews

BOOK REVIEW: Pauline Druschel, Librarian, Novi Public Library, Novi, Michigan
May 12, 2008

Alive on the Andrea Doria by Pierette Domencia Simpson tells of the ramming
of the luxury liner SS Andrea Doria by the MS Stockholm on July 25, 1956 in a gripping and highly readable account.

With Captain Piero Calamai at the helm, the Andrea Doria was traveling westbound in an area of blinding fog, only one day from New York City. Leaving from New York City the MS Stockholm, in inexperienced hands, was traveling eastbound in the same fog when it rammed the Doria.

Though the Stockholm was traveling in the wrong shipping lane, much of the blame for the accident was placed on Captain Calamai of the Doria and his career was ruined. With the advantage of time and scientific evidence from nautical scientists, Pierette Simpson has been able to provide compelling evidence that refutes previous accusations as the true causes of this tragedy. Ms. Simpson, in her book, has finally cleared Captain Calamai’s name and brought to light the previously unpublished truth.

Through personal narratives, readers feel the frightening hours, harrowing experiences and heroic actions of those who were aboard the Andrea Doria. For many hours under perilous conditions 1,644 passengers and crew were safely transferred to 5 other vessels, large enough to carry passengers that came to the Andrea Doria’s aid. Tremendous courage was demonstrated by those manning the lifeboats of more than a dozen other vessels that were used to transfer the endangered ship’s passengers in one of the greatest rescue missions of all time.

With the current interest in survival stories, this fascinating non-technical survival story could easily be used either for school reports, general interest reading collections, and for history and marine enthusiasts. Part I of the book very effectively draws one into the personal narrative of Pierette, and others who survived. Part 2 provides accurate information on the sequence of events leading up to the collision, the rescue mission and the subsequent mishandling of the accident investigation. Photos, drawings, charts, a recreated manifest, notes and a bibliography give visual meaning and support to the text.

I found this book to be a fascinating read with new insights into a disaster of horrendous proportions, which could have been another Titanic.