Your help on my book was invaluable -- direct and indirect. My thanks! And you have a lot of visitors -- I know because some of have contacted me. The following (I hope) is for your faithful readers...
“So what is newly learned in your book, Cruise of the Sea Eagle?”
That’s the question I’ve received from some of the people that visit your web site and have checked out the material on the book that are online. I thought I’d share it with you now. If you can post it up for our loyal readers, it will help them better understand some aspects of the Seeadler’s myth that are now coming to light.
A few things have been brought to the surface as a result of access to archival resources around the world, adding to what we know about Count von Luckner and the Seeadler. Thanks to declassified US Navy material in the US National Archives, the resources of the New Zealand National Archives, the National Archives of the United Kingdom, the Bundersarchiv/Militararchiv and Deutsches Schiffahrtsmuseum in Germany, and the Mariner’s Museum in Newport News VA; and a wide range of other sources – we’re finally getting a real and more accurate picture of the events concerning the Seeadler and her epic cruise.
The following are just a few juicy tid-bits for your readers that will hopefully entice them to order The Cruise of the Sea Eagle from Lyons Press (available at all of the usual on-line markets).
- The correction of the events in Lowell Thomas’s version of events. Much of what was in The Sea Devil, especially in the Pacific, bordered on fiction. There were islands that the Count never visited (per the log of his launch). The entire discovery of what happened to the rest of the Seeadler crew in the US version of the book was incorrect and misleading.
- One thing that was clear going through the German Naval (Admiralstab) archives was just how much in the dark the Germans were as to the fate of the Seeadler as the Royal Navy. Von Luckner’s father was attempting to find out what happened to him at the same time so was the rest of the navy. The stress on the crew’s families had to be high.
- Thanks to the US National Archives we got testimony from all of the Americans that were captured on Mopelia. The eventual fate of the ships log (not her War Diary, that was returned to Germany) as well as new details of the capture of these ships and what happened afterwards is revealed in the book. Some items are small nuggets of color, while others give an idea of just how serious the shipwreck on Mopelia was in terms of the life-and-death risks to the crew and their prisoners.
- Richard Preis…the prize officer. The only man recruited by Von Luckner personally for the mission. The only officer with a relationship with Von Luckner before the mission of the Seeadler. What do we know about him? We know that he was in command of the ship when it sank on the reef at Mopelia. We know he was the officer responsible for the burning of the Seeadler. We also have the testimony of the prisoners and some of his fellow officers about him and his attitude. It appears we have a new potential villain in this entire story, one that has been overlooked in the past.
- The details of death of Richard Douglas Page.; Thanks to some luck, some archival material from New Zealand (God Bless the Archives of New Zealand and her Royal Navy!) and some other sources; we now know how the lone fatality of the Seeadler’s raid happened and how the tearful funeral of this young boy took place.
- We’ll also learn how the US Government was secretly (illegally) reading the mail from the Seeadler crew back to their families during their internment – and what some of those officers (Alfred Kling in particular) thought about their captain.
- Also in this book, new copies of deck plans for the Seeadler, never before printed, have surfaced – compliments of US Naval Intelligence as well as the Royal Navy of Great Britain. The National Archives of the United Kingdom and the Mariner’s Museum in Virginia (home of the USS Monitor restoration project) also provide previously unpublished photos of the ships captured and sunk – and in one case, photos of the crew that have never been printed before (including a new photo of crewman Schmidt in his dress that has never seen the light of day). We also will see a new photo of the ship’s band of the Seeadler in the forecastle of the ship on her epic mission that has never been published before.
I hope this intrigues you and your readers enough without ruining much of the neat detail we will see for the first time in this book.
Author, Cruise of the Sea Eagle
Thanks for your update about your new book on Count von Luckner, and your kind personal words. I look forward to being able to find a copy when it is available.
Must look for it on the net.