For those who just can’t read enough about ships on the Great Lakes, Michael Schumacher’s “Torn in Two” offers another episode from the deadly lake, best described by its subtitle: “The Sinking of the Daniel J. Morrell and One Man’s Survival on the Open Sea.”

Prompted by the 50th anniversary of the sinking this Nov. 29, the book may be best read on a tropical beach, where passages of death-dealing frigidity can counteract the sun’s rays.

Schumacher, who has written about other storms, tells the story of Dennis Hale, the sole survivor of the wreck. Drama enough. But perhaps even more harrowing are the accounts of how ships are built, how they behave in waves and how questions had been raised as to safety.

The Daniel Morrell, a 600-foot freighter, literally was torn in two in an immense storm on Lake Huron. The image of the two halves of the ship, drifting away from each other, neither sinking in the moment, is chilling. The Marine Investigation Report accounts for almost one-third of the book. For wreck junkies, this is a treasure trove.


Kim Ode is a features writer at the Star Tribune.

Torn in Two
By: Michael Schumacher.
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press, 194 pages, $25.95.
Event:  7 p.m. Nov. 7, Common Good Books, 38 S. Snelling Av., St. Paul.