ALIVE ON THE ANDREA DORIA! The Greatest Sea Rescue in History
RECOLLECTIONS AND REVELATIONS
On July 25, 1956, a most unlikely collision between two ocean liners took place off the shoals of Nantucket. The catastrophic ramming of the Stockholm into Italy’s crown jewel, the luxury liner Andrea Doria, sent shock waves around the world. In the new book, ALIVE ON THE ANDREA DORIA! THE GREATEST SEA RESCUE IN HISTORY, author Pierette Domenica Simpson becomes the first Andrea Doria survivor to publish a first-hand account as well as confront the controversial details of the disaster.
As an eyewitness, Simpson presents the human aspects of survival through insightful vignettes as retold by her fellow passengers. Both poor immigrants and wealthy travelers give their moving accounts of despair and elation after surviving circumstances that could have led to a disaster like that of the Titanic: a teen-age girl is catapulted from her bunk on the Doria and is found alive on the mangled bow of the Stockholm; a mother hurls her toddler overboard, hoping he will land in a lifeboat; young parents search for one of their daughters for two days; a new college graduate carries eleven children down the rope ladder of a heavily inclined vessel; a priest crawls on all fours, offering general absolution and last rites.
Then, through interviews with dozens of survivors and nautical experts, ALIVE ON THE ANDREA DORIA! breaks open a cold case, one that should have been resolved in the maritime courts. But limits of liability were placed on the legal proceedings, and all evidence gathered to determine the true reasons for the collision and the sinking were halted. The case lay buried in coffers of mystery and controversy for decades. ALIVE ON THE ANDREA DORIA! divulges the contents of the pretrial transcripts, interprets the readings of the two ships’ course recorders, and puts everything through a technical analysis. The reader is led to a logical conclusion about who was responsible for the calamity, one that debunks all previous theories.
ALIVE ON THE ANDREA DORIA! THE GREATEST SEA RESCUE IN HISTORY is appraised by Andrea Doria historian and diver David Bright: “In this book . . . survivor Pierette Simpson has accumulated rare and historical information from various nautical experts, government bureaucrats, maritime admiralty lawyers, and survivors on two continents. This could not have been done without knowledge of the Italian language and culture. . . . As an immigrant child traveling with her grandparents, Simpson experienced the tragedy with a young girl’s innocence, but has written through the eyes and sensibilities of a brave lady who survived to tell her side of the story and that of many fellow survivors.”
In a climate where writers blur the boundaries of veracity and fiction has become an acceptable norm, Simpson offers a refreshing choice: a quest FOR the truth. Presenting survivors’ vivid recollections along with revelations from maritime experts, ALIVE ON THE ANDREA DORIA! sticks to the facts, making a solid case for the end of the Doria “mystery” and a beginning for pragmatic discussion. This in itself is newsworthy. But additionally, the book’s launching is synchronized with other important events: dives to the shipwreck, the 50th anniversary survivors’ reunion in New York, and the publication of the book in Italy by Sperling & Kupfer, Milan.