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L_Monty
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SEIZED, by Max Hardberger, Chapters 1-4 (and Welcome)

[ Edited ]

Hi, everyone. Welcome to the "official" First Look discussions for Max Hardberger's

Seized : A Sea Captain's Adventures Battling Scoundrels and Pirates While Recovering Stolen Ships in the World's Most Troubled Waters.

Now, I've never done a "First Look" group read, so this will be a new experience for me as it will be for many of you. The only rule, going forward, is don't spoil the book! Please note which chapters we're discussing in a given thread and try to confine your replies to details from those or preceding chapters.

I'm going to try not to ask too many questions or offer too many interpretations, because I don't want to step on the toes of anyone joining us or sound like I'm endorsing any one reading of the book. Please, ask away, speculate away, share your thoughts.

Just a couple of observations/questions I had for now:

For me, a lot of details in memoir sometimes take me out of the narrative because I wonder, "Now how did he remember that?" (Granted, a lot of people have better memories than I do.) At the beginning of the book, Mr. Hardberger said that he had to reconstruct some dialogue and compress scenes together, to tell a stronger story. Did this stick with anyone? Were there some scenes you speculated about? Maybe story details? As a follow-up, Mr. Hardberger, did you have to interpolate any events when reconstructing the story?

I was curious, too, about military school background and also the backgrounds of people who had come from fishing/sailing/merchant families, wondering if the demands and the specialization of this kind of work crowd out certain kinds of people and require these kinds of backgrounds. For instance, was the work Mr. Hardberger did something that a person without any military training would be able to do?

I had a few other questions, but I'd rather open the floor to everyone else.

 

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dhaupt
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Re: SEIZED, by Max Hardberger, Chapters 1-4 (and Welcome)

[ Edited ]

For me, a lot of details in memoir sometimes take me out of the narrative because I wonder, "Now how did he remember that?" (Granted, a lot of people have better memories than I do.) At the beginning of the book, Mr. Hardberger said that he had to reconstruct some dialogue and compress scenes together, to tell a stronger story. Did this stick with anyone? Were there some scenes you speculated about? Maybe story details? As a follow-up, Mr. Hardberger, did you have to interpolate any events when reconstructing the story? 
I think in any ordinary setting, such as my boring life certain things would be easy to forget, but I think in the event I was rescuing seized ships from unfriendly shores it would be kind of hard to forget. Also I would imagine there is a lot of paper work to back Max up on these events.

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Psychee
Posts: 7,307
Registered: ‎04-17-2007

Re: SEIZED, by Max Hardberger, Chapters 1-4 (and Welcome)

Max, in Chapter 1, which your text places in Haiti, the ship was seized with the excuse that you had failed to deliver as much rice as the buyer had paid for.

 

1.  After you got out of there, were you able to ascertain if the shipper had, in fact, put the right amount of rice on the ship?

 

2.  Is it usual for importers to pay for things in full before they get delivery?  Before they get to count what was sent?

 

3.  That story happened in 1987.  Since that time, have any procedures been put in place to prevent (as much as possible) that particular scam from working?

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DSaff
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Re: SEIZED, by Max Hardberger, Chapters 1-4 (and Welcome)

This is such an interesting book, each chapter a different story or saga. I also wondered how Max remembered so many of the details, and while I hope he lets us in on his technique, I think he had to keep notes.

 

I think the story of the crop dusters was my favorite in this section. I never imagined that planes could be broken down this way and shipped overseas. While I never doubted that Max would make his flights, I didn't think the planes would not be paid for.

 

 

DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
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dhaupt
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Re: SEIZED, by Max Hardberger, Chapters 1-4 (and Welcome)

 

DSaff wrote:

This is such an interesting book, each chapter a different story or saga. I also wondered how Max remembered so many of the details, and while I hope he lets us in on his technique, I think he had to keep notes.

 

I think the story of the crop dusters was my favorite in this section. I never imagined that planes could be broken down this way and shipped overseas. While I never doubted that Max would make his flights, I didn't think the planes would not be paid for.

 

 

 

Donna, I liked the crop duster story too, but I wasn't aware how dangerous a job it is. I always thought that the pilot just sprayed and wore a mask to protect from seepage etc, I had no idea they had to mix their own chemicals too.

 

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DSaff
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Re: SEIZED, by Max Hardberger, Chapters 1-4 (and Welcome)

Me either! It seems so dangerous now!

 

dhaupt wrote:

 

Donna, I liked the crop duster story too, but I wasn't aware how dangerous a job it is. I always thought that the pilot just sprayed and wore a mask to protect from seepage etc, I had no idea they had to mix their own chemicals too.

 

 

DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
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momofprecious1
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Re: SEIZED, by Max Hardberger, Chapters 1-4 (and Welcome)

I must say that the first chapter "Through The Reefs On The Naruda" was one of my favorite chapters in the entire book. Mr.Hardberger made it seem so simple to take the ship although it was his first time doing it. My heart was beating really fast until I finished that chapter. I really thought that they were going to get caught.

 

I also wondered how Mr.Hardberger remembered all the details, like someone mentioned earlier, he was probably keeping a journal & if he wasn't he must have a really good memory. I for one wouldn't be able to remember everything but then again my life isn't so amusing.

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aprilh
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Re: SEIZED, by Max Hardberger, Chapters 1-4 (and Welcome)

The first chapter really got our feet wet and showed us what we would be dealing with in this book. I have never read anything like this before. It was amazing to me that the author took control of the situation and decided to take matters into his own hands by taking the ship even though it had been "seized". While reading, I kept thinking to myself I would never be brave enough to do that and found myself imagining all the trouble they could get into. Max Hardberger has led a very interesting life and I'm glad he chose to share his experiences with the rest of us.

April
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Max-Hardberger
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Re: SEIZED, by Max Hardberger, Chapters 1-4 (and Welcome)

Dear Monty

 

I doubt that my memory is any better than anyone else's, but of course effective writing has to be full of details. Take my description of Ramesh as continually wearing flip-flops. I don't have any particular memory of him wearing flip-flops, but he was always wearing them, even in the rain and sleet of a Seattle winter. So when I describe him, and I need details to make the description vivid and memorable, I write (something like), "Ramesh came forward with me, his flip-flops slapping on the steel deck. . ." I wouldn't remember that he was wearing them at that moment, but he probably was; the detail is true to his character and necessary to the scene.

 

Certainly some moments, like the time I thought the Patric M was going to go up on the rocks, still stand out clearly in my mind. To paraphrase Samuel Johnson, "Nothing focuses the mind like the prospect of prison." But by and large my memory of 20-year-old events is, like anyone's, composed of reality, subjective recreation, and wishful thinking in probably equal measures.

 

Regarding your question about a military background, there is actually very little if any connection between the military and the things I do. I choose the men for my teams by their nautical skill (especially the engineers) and my experience with them--their proven abilities to follow orders and think independently at the same time. And of course my operations have some military-like aspects, such as the need for on-the-ground intelligence, operational secrecy, and mission dedication, but the most important thing for my men is to know the sea and ships.

 

Best regards

 

Max

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Max-Hardberger
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Re: SEIZED, by Max Hardberger, Chapters 1-4 (and Welcome)

Dear Psychee

 

1. I've no idea. . .I left that ship a couple of voyages later. Since the ship is not responsible for short-loads, normally the shipowner would not be involved in the arbitration or litigation between the shipper and receiver. It's equally possible that the ship actually was short-loaded by the shipper--either accidentally or intentionally--and that the receiver was just using the accusation as part of a plot to steal the ship. It was probably a little of both.

 

2. If a receiver wants to make sure he gets what he pays for, he'll either buy the product C&F (i.e., delivered to his port or warehouse) or he'll appoint a surveyor to tally the cargo coming onboard. That way, differences in tally can be resolved before the ship leaves the load port.

 

3. I'm not sure the short-loading on the NARUDA was a scam, as above, but if it were, it would still work. There's nothing new in shipping! The Phoenicians were short-loading cargos to Rome three thousand years ago. A smart receiver will structure the purchase per Answer 2 above.

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meme1
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Re: SEIZED, by Max Hardberger, Chapters 1-4 (and Welcome)

 

aprilh wrote:

The first chapter really got our feet wet and showed us what we would be dealing with in this book. I have never read anything like this before. It was amazing to me that the author took control of the situation and decided to take matters into his own hands by taking the ship even though it had been "seized". While reading, I kept thinking to myself I would never be brave enough to do that and found myself imagining all the trouble they could get into. Max Hardberger has led a very interesting life and I'm glad he chose to share his experiences with the rest of us.

 

I agree with you.  The bravery and confidence needed to solve the seized ship situation  is amazing to me.  I was sure as I read this chapter that more difficulties would present themselves.  I have so little knowledge about life on the seas so I'm glad I have the chance to read Hardberger's book.

 

meme

~~ Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.

~~ Be careful reading health books. You may die of a misprint. Mark Twain
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lg4154
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Re: SEIZED, by Max Hardberger, Chapters 1-4 (and Welcome)

It was great reading about the adventures on the sea. I have never read anything like this and I found it to be a real eye opener and literally could not put this book down. Thank you for sharing with us.

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CharminKB
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Re: SEIZED, by Max Hardberger, Chapters 1-4 (and Welcome)

Hello Max - and Sneak Peak bunch - I just wanted to say how amazing your book is!  I think, like a lot of others have commented, that one can never truly imagine things that go on "behind-the-scenes" so to speak!  The stories told in this book are far beyond what my imagination could ever conceive (although - to be fair, I am an accountant!  HA!).  While reading, I feel like I'm watching an action movie in my mind!

Very entertaining and on-the-edge-of-your-seat reading!

I am curios as to how your family dealt with the stress of what came with your job...how do they feel about the book?

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Lildove3
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Re: SEIZED, by Max Hardberger, Chapters 1-4 (and Welcome)

What a powerful novel, it definately has my attention, there is so much information

 and details it almost makes your head spin. Hats off to you Max,for doing such a splended

way of creating a story and captavating the reader.

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MSaff
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: SEIZED, by Max Hardberger, Chapters 1-4 (and Welcome)

Hi Everyone,

 

  First of all Thank You L_Monty for moderating this discussion.  You will find us all friendly, and we will surely discuss each and every aspect of this novel. 

 

    As for me I like memoir types of books, especially those in the historical realm.  I am a history buff and enjoy reading about the lives of someone who is letting us in on their history and experiences.  I understand how Max Hardberger, would have to reconstruct his life, because, his story runs for a pretty good amount of time and by making notes, (that's how I think he was able to recall certain events so clearly), he is able to convey his story in it's truest form. 

 

  Now for the military schooling background, I have a feeling that this background lends to a stronger commitment to detail.  As a former Naval Aviator, we had to ensure that everything was correct and set properly, otherwise tragedy would certainly soon follow. 

 

 

 

L_Monty wrote:




Just a couple of observations/questions I had for now:

For me, a lot of details in memoir sometimes take me out of the narrative because I wonder, "Now how did he remember that?" (Granted, a lot of people have better memories than I do.) At the beginning of the book, Mr. Hardberger said that he had to reconstruct some dialogue and compress scenes together, to tell a stronger story. Did this stick with anyone? Were there some scenes you speculated about? Maybe story details? As a follow-up, Mr. Hardberger, did you have to interpolate any events when reconstructing the story?

I was curious, too, about military school background and also the backgrounds of people who had come from fishing/sailing/merchant families, wondering if the demands and the specialization of this kind of work crowd out certain kinds of people and require these kinds of backgrounds. For instance, was the work Mr. Hardberger did something that a person without any military training would be able to do?

I had a few other questions, but I'd rather open the floor to everyone else.

 

 

 

Mike
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." Dr. Seuss
http://travelswithcarsandbooks.blogspot.com/
Author
Max-Hardberger
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Re: SEIZED, by Max Hardberger, Chapters 1-4 (and Welcome)

Hi, Charmin

 

Actually, the only one in my family with whom I've discussed the book is my son, Alex. He likes it. I've sent excerpts to various friends who appear in the book, like "Barry Butler" and "Annie Lindgren," and their reactions have ranged from pleasure to amused tolerance. It'll be interesting to see how characters like "Mario Vargas" and "Jose Maldonado" react to finding themselves in the book. All the best--Max

'

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ambika22
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Re: SEIZED, by Max Hardberger, Chapters 1-4 (and Welcome)

So far i've had time to read only the first two chapters but i feel im going to like the rest of the book. I like the fact that every chapter is kind of a different story and its very detailed.

Since im not english native i had some problems with vocabulary so i had to read with a dictionnary within reach, but leaving that aside, i like it.

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GaryP
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Registered: ‎02-09-2010
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Re: SEIZED, by Max Hardberger: Disconnect between literary life & everyday life

I loved the paragraph on page 42:

 

There could not have been a greater disconnect than that between my literary life and my everyday life. Small and thin, the youngest child in my grade, I was an easy target for bullies. And with a preternaturally sharp tongue, I was easily capable of provoking them. In the pages of the books I read, I could outwit pirates, escape buccaneers, and drink rum companionably with my shipmates in seedy waterfront bars from Havana to Pernambuco. To a lonely fifteen-year-old, the disconnect between my interior life and my real life became almost intolerable.

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jb70
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Registered: ‎07-06-2009
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Re: SEIZED, by Max Hardberger: Disconnect between literary life & everyday life

I'm not very far yet but I am enjoying learning more about the way things work with shipping aboard actual ships.  I have to admit when the two guards were locked in I could not picture where it was on the ship they were, I feel like I am missing some terminology and can't quite picture it.  I wondered about how often you were able to be with your family and if they ever came with you.  (That may come up later, I am still in the beginning of the book.)  How hard was it to keep in touch with the people you left back home?

http://bookbookseverywhere.blogspot.com/
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Bitter_Bierce
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Re: SEIZED, by Max Hardberger: Disconnect between literary life & everyday life

Hey Max, I enjoyed the book immensely. I have two questions and I hope you don't take either as too forward. I apologize if you take any disrespect from them, but I'm a curious person by nature. 1) I know you are keeping it vague the cost of your services, but can you give a general idea of what it costs to do a job like this? I know every time you talked about your day rate I kept wondering "Man, this better pay well for the crap this guy goes through!" 2) Do your ideas for these plans just pop into your head or do you have a rough idea before you get there? I know in a book you make it happen quickly, but I'm curious if you just had Eureka moments or if it was a more going through a bunch of ideas until one made sense.