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The Wreck of the ‘Daniel J. Morrell’

Michael Schumacher’s latest Great Lakes history adventure

Nov. 8, 2016
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Kenosha’s Michael Schumacher authored biographies of globally recognized cultural figures such as Eric Clapton and Francis Ford Coppola but has turned, in recent years, to the Midwest for inspiration. Specifically: maritime disasters on the Great Lakes. Schumacher has written Mighty Fitz: The Sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald, Wreck of the Carl D.: A True Story of Loss, Survival, and Rescue at Sea and November’s Fury: The Deadly Great Lakes Hurricane of 1913.

His latest, Torn in Two: The Sinking of the Daniel J. Morrell and One Man’s Survival on the Open Sea, concerns a sailor who survived the sinking of a freighter in yet another mighty storm. The “open sea” is Lake Huron, as bad a place to be in a wintry gale as the North Atlantic, where that one sailor of the book’s title clung to life on a raft as his mates froze.

“I’ve always been interested in the Great Lakes. When I was growing up in Milwaukee, I’d visit the lake every chance I had,” Schumacher says. “I now live about five minutes from the lake, and to this day I visit the lake every day, even if to sit quietly for a few minutes.”

The story told by Torn in Two is anything but quiet. A mountainous wave in a November storm split the freighter Daniel J. Morrell in half, tossing the crew overboard. “It’s truly one of the most captivating survival stories I’ve ever read,” Schumacher continues. “Dennis Hale, the sole survivor, clad only in his boxer shorts and a pea coat, on a raft being tossed around in a storm that sank a 600-foot boat, hanging on for more than a day and a half.” 

Michael Schumacher will read from Torn in Two at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at Boswell Book Co., 2559 N. Downer Ave.

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