Dennis Hale reached the dock just in time to see the Daniel J. Morrell heading out to open waters, a 600-foot freighter that had plied the waters for sixty years, carrying ore from Minnesota’s Iron Range to steel firms around the Great Lakes. The twenty-six-year-old watchman had, quite literally, missed the boat—which meant scrambling to rejoin the Morrell at its next stop or forfeiting a good chunk of his pay package. Seventy-two hours later, Hale would find himself clinging to a life raft alongside the frozen bodies of his crewmates in the violent waves of Lake Huron. The boat would not be reported missing for another twenty-seven hours and by the time the life raft was found, Dennis Hale would remain as the sole survivor of the wreck of the Daniel J. Morrell.
This is life-and-death drama on the inland sea as only Michael Schumacher can tell it. In Torn in Two the great Lakes historian recreates the circumstances surrounding the terrible storm of November 29, 1966, that broke the mighty freighter in half, sending twenty-five of the Morrell’s twenty-nine-man crew to their deaths and consigning the surviving four to the freezing raft where all but Hale would perish. At the heart of Torn in Two are the terrible hours spent by Hale on the life raft with his crewmen, clinging to life for thirty-eight hours in freezing temperatures and wearing only a peacoat, life jacket, and boxer shorts. The fight to save Hale and find the others, the Coast Guard hearings into what happened, the discovery of the wreckage—Schumacher’s vivid narrative captures every harrowing detail and curious fact of the Morrell’s demise, finally doing justice to this epic shipwreck fifty years past.
About the Author
Michael Schumacher has published three previous books about the Great Lakes: Mighty Fitz, about the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald; The Wreck of the Carl D., about the loss of the Carl D. Bradley; and November’s Fury, an account of the Storm of 1913, the deadliest in Great Lakes history. Dharma Lion—his acclaimed biography of Allen Ginsberg—will be reprinted by the University of Minnesota Press in 2016. He recently edited The Essential Ginsberg and is currently writing an account of the 1968 presidential election, also to be published by Minnesota. He lives in Wisconsin.
"Michael Schumacher's latest book is tragic, gripping, and hard to put down. He captures the fury of the Great Lakes as a winter storm rips a steel hull in two and tosses the crew into the lake’s cold, dark maw. What happens next is a true survival tale."—Cary Griffith, author of Savage Minnesota and Lost in the Wild
"Schumacher provides depth and reality to the story that he tempers with engaging writing."—Great Lakes Echo
"For wreck junkies, this is a treasure trove."—Star Tribune
"This remarkable and tragic true story will be appreciated by those who enjoy Great Lakes history."—Green Bay Press-Gazette
"Michael Schumacher delivers a clear and concise account of the tragedy of the Daniel J. Morrell. The book is a worthwhile addition to historical study of the wreck of the Daniel J. Morrell and to Schumacher’s growing list of Great Lakes shipwreck publications." —Inland Seas
"Torn in Two is a remarkable book and does a masterful job of closely focusing on the human element of the overall disaster." —The Michigan Historical Review