The Wolf at our door

The Australian newspaper published an extract from The Wolf today, including a link to audio of an interview with Richard and a display of photos from the book.

San Francisco Bay shimmered under a brilliant blue sky on the morning of May 15, 1917, yet Captain Stan Cameron was plagued by a sailor’s nagging superstition as he guided his three-masted barque, the Beluga, out through the heads and into the Pacific Ocean.

As he stood on the aft deck watching the brick ramparts of Alcatraz Island’s military prison slip past on the port side, the skipper’s mind kept returning to the ritual headcount he had performed aboard the ship shortly before casting off. With a load capacity of only 500 tonnes, the Beluga would normally have carried just Cameron and a crew of 10, but on this voyage to Sydney, carrying a cargo of benzene, he had brought along his young Australian wife, Mary, and their six-year-old daughter, Juanita.

Only as he prepared to cast off had he realised that the total number of people aboard her was now an unlucky 13.

Something deeper than mere superstition was also at work in Cameron’s mind, for the world was in turmoil as he and Mary set sail across the Pacific. The previous month the US president, Woodrow Wilson, had declared war on Germany, officially ending his nation’s tenuous neutrality to side with Britain in the “grim and terrible” conflict that had turned the fields of France and Belgium into slaughtering grounds over the past three years.

Click here to read the entire extract.

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