In Hazard

In Hazard

by Richard Hughes, John Crowley

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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781590175330
Publisher: New York Review Books
Publication date: 08/29/2012
Series: NYRB Classics Series
Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 224
File size: 248 KB

About 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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In Hazard 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
mrkatzer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The best thing I can say about this book is that Hughes' use of language is very compelling, and especially strong in his descriptive writing. Unfortunately, I found the characters in this book to be much less intriguing than Hughes' description of the boat and the storm, thereby lessening my enjoyment of this novel immensely.
bedda on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In Hazard is the story of a steam ship in the grips of a tremendous hurricane and the struggle of the men on her to survive. It gives a gripping description of the ship being tossed and battered in the wind and sea and all of the measures taken by the crew to save her. You grow tense in sympathy as you watch the men try to make repairs to their beleaguered ship. You also watch the crew¿s reaction to the fear and trials of the storm. It is interesting to see how all the men react differently in the time of crisis. It is a story that will keep you reading to find out what happens to these men and their ship. There is some description of how the ship works but although I knew nothing of steam ships I never felt out of my depth or lost in jargon. There is also some description of how the weather system worked to create the hurricane that I believe helps to make the things that happen to the ship easier to understand. All in all it is a very good story of survival at sea.
dougcornelius on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I must have missed the allegories and other aspects, because I just found the book boring and confusing. There are some interesting character developments and intriguing parts of the book. I thought they did not hold together.
pitjrw on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In Hazard is the account of the Archimedes, a streamer plying the Caribbean, trapped in the throes of a relentless hurricane in the days before advances in meteorology and satellites made the movements and actions of storms much more predictable. The widely varying responses of the crew to the extreme environment and extended serious risk is the theme of the book. The descriptive writing is powerful though I did not find it as imaginative description of a powerful storm as the hurricane in A High Wind in Jamaica. After the introduction of the characters and initial onslaught of the storm, the book loses momentum. An extended section regarding the relationship between Chinese stokers and their English officers bogs down in a tedious indirect commentary on imperialism. If you have not read Hughes yet, I recommend you try A High Wind in Jamaica first. It covers some of the same ground as Lord of the Flies but I found it much more engaging and entertaining than that more famous work.
fredbacon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Weather is seldom a surprise in the modern world. Television, computer models, radar and weather satellites haven't tamed the weather, but they can now instantly alert us to a change in the weather's temperament. For days in advance we know that storms are approaching us from the west, that Tuesday's weather will be wet or dry, sunny or cloudy, hot, mild, cold, or windy, and we can plan accordingly. But it was not always like this.More than a century ago, the weather was an unchained beast that stalked the world, and this was especially true on the open oceans. The captain of an ocean going vessel knew the weather no further than the horizon and consulted his barometer like a diviner consulting the entrails of a sacrificial lamb. Wireless improved the situation. At the dawn of the 20th century, ships could now communicate the weather at their locations in real time. By the 1920's these reports were being collated and radioed out twice a day as weather alerts to merchant vessels plowing the seas. Now a ship's captain could see the weather over the horizon and could act accordingly to protect his ship...and the owner's investment. But though the situation was better, a captain's view of the future was still murky and danger was still waiting over the horizon.Richard Hughes, novel, In Hazard, first published in 1938, is the fictionalized tale of a steamship, the Archimedes, which finds itself accidentally caught in a late season hurricane of tremendous power. The story is short and simple. A tale of men pitted against nature, their machines and themselves.Hughes spent four years researching and writing the novel, and the effort can be seen on every page. He presents a detailed picture of the operations of a steamship in the inter-war period. Within a hundred pages, you feel as though you could walk around such a ship and explain the operation of every component. That you could navigate the shipboard politics which divides the vessel into well defined territories--ruled by the Captain and the Chief Engineer--two regimes, separate but equal. Finally, you come to understand the dynamic tension between the ship's captain, who must command the ship at sea, and the "Owners" back home who have entrusted so much into his hands. "In the end they had forgiven him: but not forgotten. Owners do not forget. Or, if they do, they have only to consult their files to be reminded of everything."The strength of the book lies with these mechanical and sociological aspects of the ship's operation. The characters never seem to be more than the standard adventure story cliches: the redoubtable captain, the gruff engineer, the loyal first mate, the young man experiencing his first trials at sea, and the mid-career officer who's nerve fails under the strain. It's difficult to care about the characters because they are so generic. What saves the book is the immediacy of the writing. One feels drawn into the chaos of the storm and effort of saving the ship despite the characters.While the book focuses on the ship and the storm, it seldom makes a false step. However, midway through the novel, Hughes unexpectedly vears off course. A Chinese seaman is suddenly introduced and becomes the center of the story. We take a long digression to recount his childhood and history. We see how he became a Communist soldier fighting with Mao Tse-tung only to be forced to flee China and take up service on the Archimedes.The unexpected intrusion of this new plot line into the story breaks the pace of the action and kills the tension, which Hughes as so carefully built up to that point, the way one might smother a fire with a heavy blanket. It feels as though the book has somehow been temporarily hijacked by a different story--a story which ends almost as abruptly as it emerged.In Hazard is a wonderful bit of fluff for an afternoon read. It's only problem is the inevitable racist depiction of the Chinese crewmen. The attitudes of the characters (and the author) are fairly typ
jeffome on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fairly gripping account of a steam-driven cargo ship caught in a multi-day horrific 'storm of the century' hurricane in the Caribbean........a novel based on an actual event that took place in 1932. A quick read that reinforces my longtime notion that the folks that climb onto these ships need to be very special indeed....a lot can go wrong out there, with Mother Nature fully in charge. As is usually the case, i learned a bit about the running of a cargo ship, but i felt that some of the character flashbacks felt a little forced, and in some cases, almost unnecessary.......u know....'back to the storm please....i wanna know what happened next!' No regrets.
TadAD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am a fan of A High Wind in Jamaica and, upon reading in the author's preface that this book sold even more when it was released, was excited to read it. Unfortunately, I found the book a bit of a disappointment.As the book's summary tells you, this is a story about the crew of a freighter attempting to survive the onslaught of a monster storm and a synergy of mechanical problems it causes aboard the ship. The description of the storm was realistic and gripping. Hughes did a great job of allowing the reader to empathize with the ever-growing sense of horror felt by the captain and his officers. The exertions of the crew in their efforts to save the ship and themselves were also extremely well done.The book is full of the blatant racism of the day. However, this isn't a fault¿merely a reflection of not uncommon prejudices of the 30s.Where the book falls short is that Hughes loses his way and wanders off into unrelated subplots. These do nothing except distract the reader and water down what could have been the wonderful tension of the struggle of Man against Nature. The fears of those who find their courage wanting, the single-minded determination of the heroes, the individuals who rise above their ordinary selves...these strengthen the tale. Detours into the Chinese nationalist struggle? Meandering, pointless reminiscences about people who were of no great import to the person? These evoked nothing for me but a sense of irritation. The after-the-fact death of one of the heroes is mystifyingly irrelevant to the plot and only served to alienate me more. Even the struggle against the storm started with a bang but ended in an anticlimax.My recommendation would be to read A High Wind in Jamaica and leave this one alone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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