Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Lifesavers of the South Shore by John Galluzzo

book cover

Lifesavers of the South Shore:
A History of Rescue and Loss
by John Galluzzo

Trade Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: The History Press
Released: Sept. 2008

Source: Bought through Half.com.

Book Description from Back Cover:
However cruelly the rocks of Massachusetts's South Shore have treated storm-driven sailors, there can be no questioning the selflessness and courage of the keepers and surfmen who played host to the no man's land between frozen beach and gale-tossed sea. Read John Galluzzo's enthralling account of the Life-Saving Service and meet legends like Joshua James, whose surfboat, Nantasket, once saved twenty-nine men from six boats in a grueling thirty-six hours. Chart a course through the service s history, from its humble beginning in the refuge huts built after the American Revolution until its absorption into the U.S. Coast Guard in the twentieth century.

Lifesavers of the South Shore gives the history of the lifesaving services (the Massachusetts Humane Society and United States Life-Saving Service) from the 1780's until the 1920's (shortly after the Life-Saving Service became the US Coast Guards). The author described where the idea to create a lifesaving service came from, their equipment, how it was used, and how the services were run. He explained how the service developed over time (stations, lighthouses, improved equipment, etc.). He then talked about each station that was on the south shore of Massachusetts. He gave a brief biography of the various keepers (leaders) of each station over the years and the details of one or more of their major rescues. I was expecting more tales of rescue than were included, but the author included all of the information I was most interested in. The book ended by talking about the changes in technology and in how the service was run when the US Coast Guard took over.

There were black and white pictures of the lifesavers, their equipment, their stations, and various wrecks. Overall, the book was written in an easy-to-understand and interesting way. I'd recommend it to people unfamiliar with but interested in the origins of the lifesaving organizations and the US Coast Guard.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Introduction
They were called storm fighters and storm warriors. When wind and wave conspired to kill those who dared to tread upon the sea, the men of the United States Lifesaving Service left the comfort of their sturdy stations and entered the battle. With nothing more than wooden boats, cork life jackets and the oilskin foul weather gear on their backs, they let their muscle, determination and bravery lead the way. Time and again they smirked in the face of danger and stole back the lives of men who were supposed to be dead, victims intended to be claimed by shipwrecks caused by storms.

While the birth of the Life-Saving Service took place elsewhere, the South Shore of Boston is where the first lifeboat ever intended for launching from the shore to a wreck on the American coast was placed. For before there was the United States Life-Saving Service, there was the Humane Society of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Volunteers who worked their boats during times of disaster lived by the motto, "I'd like to think that if I was the one out there, someone would come for me."


John Galluzzo said...

Hi Deb -

Hope you enjoyed the book. Thanks for reviewing.


Genre Reviewer said...


Thanks for dropping by. Yes, I enjoyed the book. I'd heard a brief mention of the origins of the live-saving service in America on a history program, and I was interested in learning more. I'm glad you took the time to put all of that information together in a book. :)

John Galluzzo said...

And that was my challenge - since the history of the USLSS is so poorly known, before I could get to the shipwrecks, I had to explain daily life in the service. There's a South Shore of Boston shipwreck book in my future, for sure.