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“A novelized yarn describing the adventures of an Irish/American teenager who ran away to sea in the mid-1950s.

The author David Paul Collins was, indeed, shanghaied from the American port of Mobile, Alabama. It is later revealed that he was sold aboard ship by a gang for $100.
He was lucky. He landed on a ship crewed by a great bunch of West Indian and Filipino sailors. They looked after him, protected him from the first mate and educated him in a way that no school ever could.

His few months aboard taught him invaluable lessons about the world, about people, about racism and, even, about the sea and ships. It prepared him well for his formal education and, later, for the real world.

A very good read from a very perceptive writer.”

Excerpted from a review published by Baird Publications Ltd, Hong Kong

Shanghaied is one of those fun reads that reminds you why you don’t need a TV. I completely enjoyed the tale and Mr. Collins’ prose made me wish to be young again and to be able to chase a dream and live a life of adventure.”  Michael G.


“Just the thoughts of a fifteen year old boy waking up on an African ship with no idea how he got there give me chills, but that is what happens to Jack Sligo in this story. And it is what happened to David Paul Collins in real life. Spellbound by his Irish grandfather’s tales of adventure, Jack Sligo had dreams of traveling around the world as part of the crew on a cruise ship. But did he dream of starting out this way? “Shanghaied” is a novel based on the author’s own true story as a merchant seaman, making this not just a fictional story, but a story told with realistic accounts of what actually happens in the life of a merchant seaman.

I was hooked from the beginning of this story because I wanted to see what happened to Jack Sligo. I can only imagine the shock this guy felt waking up on that ship of strangers! In this well-written story, David Collins takes you to the sea with him as he starts his sea journey at a very early age. I have never been at sea, but it felt almost as if I was there, smelling the sea, feeling the spray of salt water, and as a merchant, taking in everything on the entire ship from top to bottom. I always enjoy reading a book by an author writing from personal experiences, and this is truly one of my favorites. I enjoyed the writing style of Collins, and felt I could laugh and cry with him throughout his journey. I highly recommend this book as a fantastic read for anyone, and especially for those looking for a great adventure. This book will take your adventurous juices and take them to a level you never knew you had. After reading “Shanghaied”, you will want to take those adventures with a stronger determination.”  Reviewed by Joy H. for Readers Favorite


“None of the numerous coming-of-age memoirs, fictionalized accounts, or nonfiction historical books of sea-going adventures have captured my imagination as magically as David Paul Collins’ novel “Shanghaied,” based on his own true story as a merchant seaman.

Collins conveys an amazing depth of feeling in his portrayal of protagonist Jack Sligo. Written as a first person narrative, Jack relates the story of his brutal initiation into survival at sea. Spellbound by his Irish grandfather’s tales of adventure, Joseph Conrad’s “Lord Jim,” C. S. Forester’s “Horatio Hornblower,” and Richard Henry Dana’s “Two Years Before the Mast,” fifteen-year-old Jack Sligo dreams of traveling around the world as a part of the crew on a cruise ship.

Within days of the end of his sophomore year in high school, Jack quietly slips out of his bedroom to begin a summer adventure that changes his life. The first step in his plan was to register with the International Maritime Union in New York City to get a job on a US cruise ship. Because of Jack’s obvious youth, slight build, lack of experience and the necessary paperwork, he is escorted out (thrown) by the union’s representatives.

Persistent, Jack returned the next day, quietly found his way to the office of Bernie Callahan, the chief port agent who sent him on a wild goose chase to see a buddy in Mobile. Jack experienced another rejection. His first night in Mobile he found his way to Nellies Bar where two strangers buy him a powerful drink. Jack’s next memory is waking up on the on a 60,000 ton Liberian merchant ship, the SS Iron Prince, bound for South America.

Jack weaves in stories of real or imagined cannibal Indians along the banks of the Orinoco River in Venezuela, dozens of seas stories revealing the circumstances that led to how members of the ship’s crew ended up aboard the SS Iron Prince. He tells of his fear when caught in the eye of a ferocious storm at sea, facing hurricane force winds, as the ship and crew sails between Haiti and Cuba. He describes the panic, dangers, and rescue when the ship runs aground in the Orinoco River.

Jack tells of his homesickness, and of the important life lessons learns through his experiences; of how he learns the reality of hate and intolerance and the importance of courage, honesty, and patriotism.  Jack also relates lessons he learns from crew members concerned for his safety:

• Lessons in self-respect
• Lessons about judging others
• Lessons about accepting the will of God
• The call of the sea is never held back by fear.
• No man cheats another more than he cheats himself.

He learns to appreciate more fully the benefits of his personal opportunities, of parents, family, economic benefits, and education. He adjusts to the company of tough sailors left with insecurities as a result of never having the chance to go to school. Collins skillfully introduces broken English, with nuances of German, Tagalog, Norwegian, African, and Cayman Islanders into his dialog.

The inclusion of black and white photos and maps throughout the text and a comprehensive glossary of nautical terms add to the interest level and informative value of the book as a whole.

Shanghaied captured my imagination from the very first page – entertaining and informative – destined to become a classic in the genre of Adventures on the High Seas.” Richard R. Blake for Reader Views

Article first published as Book Review: Shanghaied by David Paul Collins on Blogcritics.


“Jack Sligo, a fifteen-year-old Irish Catholic kid growing up in Boston in the 1950s, sneaks out of his home one night and hitchhikes to New York hoping to get a job on a ship to see the world. And he gets his wish, waking up on an African merchant ship bound for ports unknown, with no idea how he got aboard or if he’ll ever see home again.

Life at sea quickly turns out to be more effort and less fun then he had hoped, the backbreaking work leaving him sun burnt, callused, and eaten alive by mosquitoes. Still, even at the moments he wonders if the next painful tiring task will be his last, he thinks about the stories he’ll be able to bring back to his classmates, the money he’ll earn to take back to his parents, and the boasting he can do as a real-life sailor.

Shanghaied moves just slowly enough so a reader who doesn’t know a boat from a ship can pick up on the terminology and slang, but quick enough to convey the break-neck pace of working on a merchant ship. There are some wonderfully drawn action scenes, like the chaos on deck as the ship battles a hurricane. Still what draws a reader in is the diverse cast of characters Sligo meets on board, from the ship’s Bo’sun, who quickly gains Jack’s respect, to Winston, a boy who’s been on the ship since he was twelve and desperate to get back home to see his mother before she dies. He sees Jack as his brother, as they plot their escape together.

Sligo seems younger than fifteen in an accurate way, with the naivety about the world a young teen that had never left the insular community of his hometown would have. The novel touches on issues of race relations in the 1950s, and Sligo’s naive indignation at the way his black shipmates are treated in a Southern diner is written perfectly, full of anger but mostly confusion about the situation.

Though this is the author’s first book, it is his first-hand experience, having been shanghaied aboard an African freighter, that makes the book come to life.

Fans of other sea-set teen novels like Avi’s The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle will like this book, which captures well the story of an utterly inexperienced kid being thrust into a situation he isn’t quite ready for, as well as the adventure he has in exploring new countries and learning to survive on the open sea. ” Molly Horan,  January 6, 2012.


”I sailed these same seas, visited the same ports and can report that the writer knows his stuff.  Shanghaied is a wonderful book, well written and a great description of a life that few would ever know. I  know because I sailed as Captain on these ships and am happy to relive the memories in this wonderful story.” Captain Walter Mergenthaler, Mexico City


“Read Shanghaied!  Its well worth your time!  I enjoyed it.  I loved the style in which it was written.  It held my interest from the first page to the last.  I’d give it a 10+.”  Robert D. Milliken


“Shanghaied is a colorfully-written coming-of-age story about a young boy who was abducted from the docks of Mobile, Alabama and ended up aboard a transport ship bound for South America. If this book was nothing more than pure fiction, it would be a wonderful romp of a read, full of high seas and adventure. That it is based on a true story complete with historical maritime pictures, makes it all the more compelling.  David Collins has done a beautiful job of rendering characters who step out of the page and into our lives. His innate sense of story and dialogue paint a vivid picture of a sailor’s life in the 1950s. Collins pulls no punches in his storytelling–we see the good and the bad in his characters, but mostly we see that they are all composed of myriad shades of gray as deep and as mysterious as the sea herself. This is a story that rings true on all levels.”  Kimberly Brower Keilbach


“Collins writes with authenticity, having lived the life he relates. With the author’s vivid descriptions, the dialogue is crisp and realistic, offering glimpses into each character’s personality. Collins’ effortlessly natural, nonjudgmental voice makes for an easy read. An entertaining, poignant coming-of-age memoir.” Kirkus Reviews


“A rip, rollicking, true-life adventure tale. A thoroughly enjoyable read.” Dr. Jewell Parker Rhodes, Author, Chair, Creative Writing, Arizona State University


“Finished the engaging page-turner tonight on NY-LA flight… excellent writer!  With more twists than Lombard Street and suspense to match, I can’t wait for the movie (seriously). What wonderful entertainment  as truth trumps fiction once again.” Dan McClory


“A riveting literary experience.” Leonard Tourney, Author, Humanities Professor, Brigham Young University


“I really enjoyed Shanghaied! It’s filled with action/adventure and lots of twists. The characters came to life in this novel and the fact that it is based on a true story makes the book such a better read. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone.” Michelle


“In this refreshingly honest account by first-time author David Paul Collins, a teenage boy from a good Irish home gets more than he bargained for as he is literally shanghaied onto a cargo ship. Yet his indentured labor turns into an adventure worthy of Captain Ahab’s mates, and his longing for family and home is unexpectedly soothed by the camaraderie that only seamen in stormy troubles could attain. Beginning innocently in Boston on an unremarkable spring day in 1956, Collins’ unplanned departure lands him in a rough vessel where everyone else is older and darker–both in spirit and in skin color. Shocked and terrified, young Collins takes us with him through tears and laughter. He faces one impossible challenge after another, and with him we experience the growing pains that literally pull him from a dreamer to a dare-doer as he sails from one exotic harbor to the next. This book is a literary journey worth taking, a journey as real as a slap on the face, as hot as a stiff swig of rum, as smelly as the hold of an old ship, and as loud as the howling wind in the middle of the Atlantic. Collins writes with a deft hand that doesn’t try to smooth over the sailors’ coarse language or their sinful habits. Perhaps because he doesn’t attempt to make it nice in any way, his tale turns out as deliciously crusty as the salt on the bow railing. It is a fit of writing few oceangoing storytellers have managed to achieve. Bravo!” Avraham Azrieli, Author of The Jerusalem Inception


“If you yearn for a good maritime read, this is it. The chapters flow, the characters come alive, and I too was shanghaied along for the ride. Anyone with an interest in the sea or the merchant marine, get a copy. You’ll be glad you did. Not only a coming of age story, this is a coming together story.” Chainhead


“Just finished reading Shanghaied and I am very impressed. It is such a good read I couldn’t stop until the story ended. I learned so much about a “real” sailor’s life and the ships they sail. Very knowledgeable. Extremely well written and captivating.” Denise Call


“If you have a teenager, you’ll cringe at Jack Sligo’s experiences. If you’re a teenager, you’ll laugh and be envious. Either way, you’ll never forget Sligo or his adventures. Rollicking adventure and ‘hard to put down’ best describes this hair-standing read.” J. Jenkins


Shanghaied is a true adventure sea tale. Well written and entertaining, author David Paul Collins captures the reader’s interest and imagination from beginning to end.” GoodReads


“I just finished reading the book Shanghaied and what fun that was!   Of course, I knew the ending was a happy one, but once I got into it, I couldn’t put it down…..  several nights with little sleep.  The “characters” were so vividly drawn and most of the time I could (unfortunately) almost smell the action!”  Nancy Braden


“Many years ago as a teen-ager I had the great opportunity  to learn to sail with a program called Sea Scouts. Reading Shanghaied by David Paul Collins brings back good – and sometimes not so good – memories of those days. Based on a true story the narrative kept me hooked from the first page to the last.  While I was never shanghaied, I can fully relate to Jack’s adventure on an African freighter in the 1950′s. Shanghaied is a great read and I recommend it to anyone who loves the sea.”  Paul Cosby