Overview

The Archimedes is a modern merchant steamship in tip-top condition, and in the summer of 1929 it has been picking up goods along the eastern seaboard of the United States before making a run to China. A little overloaded, perhaps—the oddly assorted cargo includes piles of old newspapers and heaps of tobacco—the ship departs for the Panama Canal from Norfolk, Virginia, on a beautiful autumn day. Before long, the weather turns unexpectedly rough—rougher in fact than even the most experienced members of the crew ...
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In Hazard

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Overview

The Archimedes is a modern merchant steamship in tip-top condition, and in the summer of 1929 it has been picking up goods along the eastern seaboard of the United States before making a run to China. A little overloaded, perhaps—the oddly assorted cargo includes piles of old newspapers and heaps of tobacco—the ship departs for the Panama Canal from Norfolk, Virginia, on a beautiful autumn day. Before long, the weather turns unexpectedly rough—rougher in fact than even the most experienced members of the crew have ever encountered. The Archimedes, it turns out, has been swept up in the vortex of an immense hurricane, and for the next four days it will be battered and mauled by wind and waves as it is driven wildly off course. Caught in an unremitting struggle for survival, both the crew and the ship will be tested as never before.

Based on detailed research into an actual event, Richard Hughes’s tale of high suspense on the high seas is an extraordinary story of men under pressure and the unexpected ways they prove their mettle—or crack. Yet the originality, art, and greatness of In Hazard stem from something else: Hughes’s eerie fascination with the hurricane itself, the inhuman force around which this wrenching tale of humanity at its limits revolves. Hughes channels the furies of sea and sky into a piece of writing that is both apocalyptic and analytic. In Hazard is an unforgettable, defining work of modern adventure.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
" With his eerie narrator (Is it a surviving crew member? The author? Poseidon himself?), Hughes presents an atmospheric book that makes trouble with pirates, rocky shoals or white whales seem almost trifling." --Time Out New York

"The passages in literature that have thrilled me most have almost all been sea battles and storms. Now I have had the great and exhilarating pleasure of surviving yet another tempest in Richard Hughes's In Hazard, now equipped with an excellent introduction by John Crowley... The novel is superb." --Katharine Powers, The Boston Globe

"To take the same subject as Conrad in Typhoon would be foolhardy if it were not so triumphantly justified." -Graham Greene

"Richard Hughes is a genuine case of unfair neglect, and will some day be seen again as one of the very best novelist of the past hundred years from Great Britain...In Hazard is much more than a brilliant sea story. The tale is about extreme danger and human reactions to it...It seems just as apposite to our times, when we confront a bewildering range of hazards, including the destructiveness of nature, which we ourselves are probably exacerbating." -The Financial Times

"Richard Hughes...has done another magnificent saga of the sea in this novel which inevitably calls to mind Conrad's Typhoon, not for similarity in the progression of the novel, but because of the power with which the author evokes the man's struggle against the elements. A story of mad weather at sea, it is told with restraint, humor and irony. Almost compulsory reading." -North American Fiction Review

"In Hazard is not really a book about a storm, but about fear...what will stick in most minds are the sharp descriptive passages--of a scene, illuminated by lightning, when the crew looks out on a mountainside of water crawling with sharks." —Time

"The most intense reading experience of the year-easily-was discovering Richard Hughes's 1938 novel, In Hazard, a small masterpiece of lyric terror about a cargo ship that runs into a hurricane, but also about the rest of life. It might have helped that I read it in a force 10 gale on the Atlantic but reading it in the bath would probably have the same impact."-Simon Schama, The Guardian

"Every bit the equal of Perfect Storm, this is the story of a freighter that gets caught out in the worst hurricane ever recorded at the time. It's terrifying, and it's also wonderfully written." -Boat Safe

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590175330
  • Publisher: New York Review Books
  • Publication date: 8/29/2012
  • Series: New York Review Books Classics Series
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 717,753
  • File size: 243 KB

Meet the Author

Richard Hughes (1900-1976) was born in Surrey, England, but his ancestors came from Wales and he considered himself a Welshman. After an early childhood marked by the deaths of two older siblings and his father (his mother then went to work as a magazine journalist), Hughes attended boarding school and, with every expectation of being sent to fight in the First World War, enrolled in the military. Armistice was declared, however, before he could see active service, and Hughes was free to go to Oxford, where he became a star on the university literary scene, with a book of poems in print and a play produced in the West End by the time he graduated in 1922. Hughes’s first novel, A High Wind in Jamaica, came out in 1928 and was a best seller in the United Kingdom and America. In Hazard followed ten years later. Hughes also wrote stories for children and radio plays, but his final major undertaking was the “The Human Predicament”, an ambitious amalgamation of fact and fiction that would track the German and English branches of a single family into the disaster of the Second World War while offering a dramatic depiction of Hitler’s rise to power. The work was planned as a trilogy, but remained incomplete at the time of Hughes’s death. The first volume, The Fox in the Attic, appeared in 1960, to great critical acclaim; volume two, The Wooden Shepherdess, was published in 1973. All of Hughes’s completed novels are available from NYRB Classics.

John Crowley is the author of a dozen novels and works of fiction, among them Little, Big and the Aegypt Cycle, and, most recently, Four Freedoms. He is a three-time winner of the World Fantasy Award and a winner of the Award in Literature of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Crowley teaches creative writing at Yale University. His reviews and critical essays have appeared in the Boston Review, The Yale Review, and The Washington Post.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2008

    Man Vs. Nature

    In Hazard by Richard Hughes falls neatly into some of the ¿man vs.¿ plot categories: man vs. nature, man vs. technology with a little man vs. himself tossed in for good measure. It tells the story of a British cargo ship, the Archimedes, caught in a seemingly endless hurricane as the ship makes for the Panama Canal from the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. The story, set in 1929, takes place between the two world wars, and, in fact, was originally published in 1938. The current publication is a re-release as part of New York Review of Books¿ Classics series. The book is almost too neatly divided in half. The first half all plot and storm the second, character development. For a modern reader accustomed to getting these two simultaneously, the book can be a difficult read. It takes a few chapters to feel comfortable with the mid-20th century writing. The ship is the main character of the first half. The reader is taken on a tour of the vessel and its technologic advances explained in detail, along with explanations of where and how the cargo is stowed and hints of the tensions between the crew and officers, the English and Chinese, the engine room staff and the above-deck staff. Characters seem interchangeable at this point. When the storm hits and the ship¿s technology disabled, it¿s easy to lose track of what petty officer is doing what. But by this point, the ship in peril story has captured the reader¿s attention and moves quickly. Hughes¿ describes the events beautifully. As the Archimedes is pulled back into the storm, the book abruptly changes. Detailed back stories and interior monologues for a junior officer and a Chinese laborer take center stage. The change in focus is jarring. If the character information had come earlier or been woven into the story of the storm, it could have been appreciated and helped to move the overall story forward. If the back stories had focused on the chief engineer who is central to the first and last sentences of the book, it may have worked better. As it is, the effect pulls the reader out of the story and feels an unnecessary interruption as the reader just wants to find out if and how the Archimedes survives. Once the character pieces are finished, the rest of the book feels like an extended denouement. The storm ends the American ship appears. It¿s another fast change from the slow pace of the character information. The problems with tone and pacing could be a product of the 70-year time difference between the original and current release. Each half of the book could be a fine read on its own. It¿s the harsh combination that creates problems.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2000

    one of my most favourite books

    although it has been years ago that I read this superb novel, I can still remember the fear of the crew when facing the hurricane

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