Escape from Archangel

Published by University Press of Mississippi

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During World War II, merchant marine tankers in convoys plied the frozen North Atlantic through the flaming wreckage of torpedoed ships. Working to keep sea lanes open, valiant merchant seamen supplied food, fuel, and goods to the Allies in the last pockets of European resistance to the Nazis.

This exciting book acknowledges that the merchant marines, all volunteers, are among the unsung heroes of the war. One of these was Jac Smith, an ordinary seamen on the Cedar Creek, a new civilian tanker lend-leased to the U.S.S.R. and in the merchantman convoy running from Scotland to Murmansk. Smith’s riveting adventures at sea and in the frozen taigas and tundra are a story of valor that underlines the essential role of merchant marines in the war against the Axis powers.

This gripping narrative tells of a cruel blow that fate dealt Smith when, after volunteering to serve on the tanker headed for Murmansk, he was arrested and interned in a Soviet work camp near Arkhangelsk.

Escape from Archangel recounts how this American happened to be imprisoned in an Allied country and how he planned and managed his escape. In his arduous 900-mile trek to freedom, he encountered the remarkable Laplanders of the far north and brave Norwegian resistance fighters. While telling this astonishing story of Jac Smith and of the awesome dangers merchant seamen endured while keeping commerce alive on the seascape of war, Escape from Archangel brings long-deserved attention to the role of the merchant marine and their sacrifices during wartime.

Amazon Reviews for Escape from Archangel

4.0 out of 5 stars An Important Story!, May 30, 2013


Lovee (Mississippi) – See all my reviews

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This review is from: Escape from Archangel: An American Merchant Seaman at War (Kindle Edition)

Although I am not familiar with the technical terms, I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in history. It shows how important our American Merchant Seamen were during World War II. The author treats the part about the prison camp in a professional and sensitive manner. He also shows us that it was not the only challenge Jac Smith faced in his fight for survival. I gave it four stars because is was technical at times, but for those more knowledgeable about tankers and convoys, etc., it may well be a five star book. I was surprised at how readable it was. Read it!

5.0 out of 5 stars Quite a Story, Well Told…., May 13, 2013


Big D (Auburn, AL. USA) – See all my reviews

This review is from: Escape from Archangel: An American Merchant Seaman at War (Paperback)

The moral of this story, this book, is never trust your supposed friends and allies, especially when they are Stalinist Russians.

This is the captivating story of a young man, a boy really, from Biloxi, MS, how he felt he should be a part of the war effort, how he joined the Merchant Marine, how he grew up fast in ways other than just of the sea, and learned never to trust a Russian, a Soviet Russian…

Whike in his 20s, he volunteered to help the Russians transport a Lend-Lease tanker from New York to a Soviet port only to be imprisoned once there and placed in a work camp. His escape and return to Missisippi are the stuff of which legends are made. Very reminiscent of “The Long Walk” and that story of escape from Soviet prison camp, only this one is true. If you liked “The Long Walk,” you will love this one, and it has the benefit of being true. Always best.

Excellent, entertaining and captivating information on the Merchant Marine, conditions inside the Russian camp, the Laplanders and the Norwegian resistance. And one man’s story of escape and survival.

Good stuff, good stuff all.

Read it. You will be glad you did and you will always—always—have a greater appreciation of the Merchant Marine.