American Option: And, Yes, I Almost Became an Americanby Philip Morgan Cheek
Where the recent movie, "Chronicles of Narnia, the Lion, the Witch and the Wordrobe" begins in wartime London, this book continues the real-life adventure of an actual family caught in the middle of that conflict, threading through the events of World War II. This is a plain tale of a child evacuee escaping the London blitz - and perhaps worse, if the imminence of invasion by gloating shock troops of Nazi elite is taken into account.
The author describes his journey on a Canadian-bound Atlantic convoy on a ship once commanded by his father who had been recalled to active duty. He describes the separation from his mother and life aboard ship with the German U-Boat campaign threatening the crew at every moment. The author arrives first in Boston and then travels to New Jersey to live with family friends the author's father met in New York during the First World War. The story captures the innocence of a special period in American history caught between the Great Depression and Pearl Harbor where terrible military and political events raged unabated until US entry into World War II.
In a world where national boundaries increasingly count for little more than lines on a map, its child population could also suffer evacuation to safer zones if a land war affected the country internally. For nothing now is beyond imagination in terms of terrorism in the name of culture, not a country. As a child evacuee to America in a global political climate not unlike the present, the author chose an option-he would avoid the horrors which ultimately proved the lot of Europe's children had Britain not missed being overrun by a whisker.
Visiting New York three weeks after "nine-eleven"; aware of the city's spontaneous official and citizen response among numbing scenes, was to return to the London blitz, to the 1940s-even the smell was there. This is a story about courage and a family's ultimate triumph.
The author comes from a Welsh family whose origins are in farming, seafaring, and business. His father was a merchant captain and naval reservist who sailed in Atlantic convoys during World War II. Captain Cheek first went to sea as a cadet in a convoy to Russia in 1944 and his career in the Merchant Navy has taken him to the position of shipmaster. In his own words he has had the "thrill and pleasure of commanding 26 merchant ships under eight flags." Resident in Australia for fifteen years he was in Britain when contacted to take command of the ore carrier Tiger Bay. His first book, Legacies of Peril, is based on the tragic wreck of the Tiger Bay in the Russian Baltic in 1980. Since then he has dedicated his career and reputation to campaign vigorously against the blind eye turned to unseaworthy vessels. Previously published works include magazine articles, short stories, and a weekly feature column in the Sydney Daily Commercial News. He had earlier been a staff journalist with Fairplay Shipping Weekly. He now resides in London and New Zealand.
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