No Greater Glory
The Four Immortal Chaplains and the Sinking of the Dorchester in World War II
By Dan Kurzman
(Random House Trade Paperbacks, Paperback, 9780812966091, 288pp.)
Publication Date: August 9, 2005
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The sinking of the Dorchester in the icy waters off Greenland shortly after midnight on February 3, 1942, was one of the worst sea disasters of World War II. It was also the occasion of an astounding feat of heroism—and faith.
As water gushed through a hole made by a German torpedo, four chaplains—members of different faiths but linked by bonds of friendship and devotion—moved quietly among the men onboard. Preaching bravery, the chaplains distributed life jackets, including their own. In the end, these four men went down with the ship, their arms linked in spiritual solidarity, their voices raised in prayer. In this spellbinding narrative, award-winning author and journalist Dan Kurzman tells the story of these heroes and the faith—in God and in country—that they shared.
They were about as different as four American clergymen could be. George Lansing Fox (Methodist), wounded and decorated in World War I, loved his family and his Vermont congregation—yet he re-enlisted as soon as he heard about Pearl Harbor. Rabbi Alex Goode was an athlete, an intellectual, and an adoring new father—yet he too knew, the day Pearl Harbor was bombed, that he would serve. Clark Poling (Dutch Reformed), the son a famous radio evangelist, left for war begging his father to pray that he would never be a coward. Father John Washington (Catholic), a scrappy Irish street fighter, had dedicated himself to the church after a childhood brush with death. Chance brought the chaplains together at a Massachusetts training camp, but each was convinced that God had a reason for placing them together aboard the Dorchester.
Drawing on extensive interviews with the chaplains’ families and the crews of both the Dorchester and the German submarine that fired the fatal torpedo, Kurzman re-creates the intimate circumstances and great historic events that culminated in that terrible night. The final hours unfold with the electrifying clarity of nightmare—the chaplains taking charge of the dwindling supply of life jackets, the panic of the crew, the overcrowded lifeboats, the prayers that ring out over the chaos, and the tight circle that the four chaplains form as the inevitable draws near.
In No Greater Glory, Dan Kurzman tells how four extraordinary men left their mark on a single night of war—and forever changed the lives of those they saved. Riveting and inspiring, this is a true story of heroism, of goodness in the face of disaster, and of faith that transfigures even the horror of war.
DAN KURZMAN, a former foreign correspondent for The Washington Post, is the author of fifteen previous books and the winner of five major literary and journalistic awards. His books include Fatal Voyage: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis; Left to Die: The Tragedy of the USS Juneau; and Genesis 1948: The First Arab-Israeli War. He lives in North Bergen, New Jersey.
“One of the greatest survival stories of World War II. A tale full of heroism and courage in the face of genuine horror.”
—Los Angeles Times
“Kurzman takes this gigantic tragedy and tells it in very personal terms. . . . The writing style is compelling. . . . Kurzman records dozens of tales of heroism, large and small. One can only marvel at the superhuman feats man is capable of in times of crisis.”
“An intensely personal moving account of the events and personalities involved in the catastrophe and its clouded aftermath.”