Academy Award–winning actor Gene Hackman spins a cinematic tale of pirates, shipwrecks, and sea adventure. Co-written with Daniel Lenihan, one of America's leading authorities on shipwrecks and diving, Wake of the Perdido Star is a moving story of a young boy's coming of age on the high seas, full of authentic nautical and historical detail. A 19th-century sea adventure in the spirit of Patrick O'Brian, Wake of the Perdido Star is a captivating tale about friendship, justice, and survival.
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About the Author
Gene Hackman has always had a yearning to write. Growing up in Danville, Illinois, he spent time at his grandfather’s small newspaper office and accompanied his uncle, a reporter, on assignments. After service in the Marines, Gene began his acting career in the theater, then went on to star in such movies as Bonnie and Clyde, The French Connection, The Conversation, and Unforgiven. He is the winner of two Academy Awards®.
DANIEL LENIHAN, winner of the George Melendez Wright Award for Excellence in Submerged Resources Research, has been diving as a park ranger and archeologist for the National Park Service since 1972, and founded the Submerged Cultural Resources Unit (SCRU) in 1976 before being appointed the first chief in 1980.
Over the last 25 years, Lenihan and the SCRU team have been the subject of national media stories and many TV documentaries on CBS, ABC, BBC, CNN, PBS, The Discovery and History Channels, and National Geographic. He has written frequently for Natural History and American History, and co-authored, with Gene Hackman, the well-received sea adventure novel Wake of the Perdido Star. A native New Yorker and former schoolteacher, he lives with his family in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Read an Excerpt
From Chapter 9
[At this point in the book, Jack and his fellow shipmates of the Perdido Star find themselves between the islands of O'taheiti and Belaur.]
Jack tested his strength by holding fast with his left hand and feeding out the line with his right. It was going to work, if he could just keep Paul away from the mast. He waited till the ship shuddered and righted itself in a trough and then quickly played out the line, hoping to drop Paul to the waiting hands below. He inched his way up closer to the spar and let the line out. Still fifteen feet short, Paul's body swung dangerously close to the mast. Jack grasped the spar with the rope around it and let go more slack. Paul dropped again, but was still several feet from the sailor's grasp on deck. The ship heeled suddenly and the limp body swung aft.
"Catch him!" Jack screamed. Quince, on the bridge deck above the sailors, grabbed Paul with one arm and lowered him to the deck. Relief washed over Jack as he could see Paul was safely down. As the pain from the ripped skin on his hands began heating its way into his consciousness, he took a moment to rekindle his strength.
"Take a wrap under your arms and get down here!" bellowed Quince. But Jack had already begun his rappel down. Again his line was too short, but Jack dropped into the arms of a half dozen waiting sailors. A few men whispered "well done" before hurrying off to deal with the carnage about them.
Jack looked to the bridge deck where Quince and Hansumbob had propped Paul up against the compass binnacle. Paul met Jack with a blank-eyed look.
An eerie quiet settled over the ship. Jack noticed the water had become calm; several sailors stopped their work and gazed seaward. Black clouds billowed about them, but just scant miles away the sea still boiled. Jack could see the stars straight above him, as if he were peering up from the bottom of a deep bowl. They were caught in what appeared to be a lake, surrounded by towering mountains of water. Jack fell to his knees, more tired than he had ever been in his life.
There was a stirring on the bridge deck. Jack saw a figure all in white -- it appeared to be a ghost climbing up the aft companionway. After a moment, Jack realized he was looking at the captain, naked, his pale skin silhouetted against the dark skies behind him. His long hair was disheveled and he had a large, blood-caked welt on his left temple, like a piece of old jewelry. Dried vomit adorned his chest and in his left hand he held a jug of grog. His right hand held a saber, still sheathed. He seemed unaware of the bodies and debris about him.
"Mr. Quince, why are we running with short sails? Damn it, man, we're almost becalmed. Lay on the canvas, mister."
Several of the crew dropped their heads. Jack realized for the first time how much his fellow sailors had come to believe in the hierarchy of the ship at sea. The raging of the storm and the death of their mates had shaken them, but the recognition that they were truly without a captain was crushing.
"Smithers, see that the captain is safely back in his cabin. Lash him securely in his bunk," Quince said. He stepped toward the old man and took the saber from his hand. The captain sputtered a protest.
A rogue wave from the stern lifted the entire ship and spun her. The water carried Jack halfway across the quarterdeck. Coughing seawater over the aft rail, his hands gripped the rough carving he had seen the captain working on while docked in Massachusetts and Cuba. Salem seemed to him a lifetime ago -- when he was just a boy. He ran his fingers over the intricate letters: "Captain Hans Peter Deploy. 1730 - 1806." The captain knew this was his last trip.
No one manned the wheel. It spun lazily, as if detached. Then Jack realized that, in fact, it was. The pintles were sprung from the gudgeons and the rudder had come unshipped. My God, thought Jack. We're sitting in this pond like a toy boat.
Quince bellied up to the starboard rail and stared into the blackness. In a voice full of dread, knowing he was the only one capable of command, he addressed the crew. "Quickly do what you can for the ship, lads. Then lash yourself to the pulpit around the main and foremast and pray...for we are surely in the eye of the typhoon."
What People are Saying About This
“A swashbuckling sea story of nautical derring-do. ... Salted with plenty of action.”
A swashbuckling sea story written like a sea story should be written, with all the legendary action. A fascinating read.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Gene your writing style has me in the company of the ships crew.I guess it must be the salt pumping inside your veins.A great actor ,a great Marine.I met you while you were filming The Royal Tannenbaums,almost fell in your trailer!!
Gene, Dan...perhaps you could develop the love relationship in the next novel? I'm no romance lover but am left wondering where Jack would have ended up if he'd missed the boat! Good story...tell us more! Jc
I think this would be a good book to read. It shows in any conditions, the human will will prevail.
I've read literally hundreds of books and I truly enjoyed this story. I've enjoyed Gene's acting for years and was quite impressed with his talent as an author too. I hope the saga continues. Well done Gene and Dan. Please, give us more tales of young Jack and his shipmates. I for one will be waiting.
Good storyline, but not a well-written novel. Skin-deep characterization. Example: 'It was his father. Dead.' Also the following paragraphs dealing with the death. Another example: the death of his mother. 'He saw in her eyes what could only be triumph. Triumph and love.' Come on, Gene. You're speaking of loved parents dying in agony, not what you had for breakfast. Gene, all of your acting roles were geat. Be satisfied with that. I note that the novel was not published by a big name firm. That should give a buyer pause.
I thoroughly enjoyed this rolling sea tale, good characters, excellent story. Hard to put this down. The shipboard scenes and early diving scenes were particularly good and rich in details. Loved the battles. Hope these two do it again.