Shanghaied Press Release 

Captivating fictionalized memoir reveals the incredible journey of a fifteen-year-old Irish boy from Boston as he unwittingly sets sail on a voyage of adventure and high-drama on the high seas.

Young Jack Sligo has boundless ambitions for a kid from Massachusetts. Spurred by a combination of tenacity and sheer naivety, he slips out of his parents’ home one spring night in 1956 to begin his journey into adulthood. Hitchhiking alone, first to New York and then down to Alabama, Jack’s hope is to steal aboard a ship; he wants to travel the world, to drink in exotic cultures and explore uncharted lands, living life to the full and creating memories and stories that will last forever. Whilst looking for a ship to approach, Jack is befriended by two affable German seamen who quickly seduce him with alcohol and entertainment. Unaware of his obvious vulnerability, Jack revels in their company, only to wake up hours later to discover he has been drugged, kidnapped and shanghaied, and is now sitting pretty aboard a monstrous African freighter called the SS Iron Prince, already bound for South America.

Horrified and helpless, Jack is now surrounded by a salty crew of old sea-dogs, worldly-wise, hard-working and hard-drinking, none of whom are American. For a bewildered Jack there’s little choice but to grin and bear the horrendous working conditions, the appalling heat, the treacherous weather and the wicked mosquitoes; to contend with strange men, foreign languages, the ever present sense of danger and the fact that he is an unwanted stowaway. As the Iron Prince approaches its first stop on the Venezuelan coastline, will Jack be brave enough to escape if the opportunity arises? Or is he already condemned to a watery grave?

Shanghaied is based on the extraordinary experiences of debut writer David Paul Collins and is an electrifying and rum-soaked account of how he came of age at break-neck speed in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Collins was fixated by the idea of exploring a world that had remained illusively out of his reach, growing up, but one that he had read about voraciously; his indentured labor certainly turned into an adventure worthy of Captain Ahab’s mates in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Collins’ reveals how the great suffering of life at sea was tempered to some extent by the unique camaraderie that only seamen in stormy troubles could attain, and he draws readers into an era where true adventure was still actually possible, even for a boy from Boston.

The social and racial attitudes of the 1950s are surveyed throughout Collins’ story, helping to ground and contextualize it. But it’s the immediacy of Collins’ writing that is the real triumph here, as he involves readers intimately from the start, enabling them to share in Jack’s adventures and learn as he does about the work of a deck-hand, experiencing the new and confusing ways of the world, for the first time, alongside him. To share in Jack’s wide-eyed innocence and the thrilling prospect that adventure lies just on the horizon, is a rare pleasure indeed.

About the author: David Paul Collins was born in Worcester Massachusetts and after his unceremonious debut voyage continued to work aboard merchant ships in his youth, sailing under African, Asian and Central American flags before becoming a member of the National Maritime Union. Back on dry land he enjoyed a successful career in international finance, specializing in seniors’ healthcare. Collins founded ARV Assisted Living, which became one of the largest seniors’ healthcare companies in America. Since the company’s sale to Lazard Freres, he has once again been able to travel the world, as a consultant liaising with American healthcare companies as they expand overseas. David Paul Collins lives in California. Shanghaied by David Paul Collins is available online and can be ordered from all good book retailers.” 

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by David Paul Collins




David Paul Collins


Jennifer Stewart