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Mighty Fitz: The Sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  636 ratings  ·  91 reviews
The tragic story of the most legendary shipwreck on America's inland waters.
Paperback, 243 pages
Published October 31st 2006 by Bloomsbury USA (first published 2005)
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Jul 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: maritime-history
In November 1975, Lake Superior took the lives of 29 sailors.

In August 1976, a song made them immortal.

On November 10, 1975, the SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Canadian waters during a severe storm. She had been carrying a load of taconite from Superior, Wisconsin, to Detroit, Michigan. Her last radio contact occurred when Captain Ernest McSorley radioed the nearby SS Arthur Anderson and reported that: We are holding our own. Soon after that call, the Fitz disappeared with all hands. No distress
Valerity (Val)
Apr 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, history
I'm from Michigan and remember the popular folksong by Gordon Lightfoot about this massive ship sinking. I always wanted to know more about the details so I finally got this book to learn, and it was a wonderful source of details about the mystery, and many of the probabilities of what likely happened that night it went down fully loaded in a storm 15 miles from land.

It delved into some of the attempts and dives to get to the wreck and view or recover things, and how this upset the surviving
A fine account of the loss of the "Edmund Fitzgerald" with all hands. You can't really have grown up in America and not know Gordon Lightfoot's haunting song about the disaster, and Schumacher's book fleshes out the lyrics and discusses what happened out on Lake Superior when one of the largest ships on the Lake simply vanished in a storm that would be called "the Fitzgerald storm" ever after. Very good background, too--- Schumacher gives a good account of the Great Lakes ore trade and the ships ...more
Feb 17, 2016 rated it liked it
A pretty good history of the famous ship and its sinking. I truly enjoyed how Schumacher dealt with the actual sinking in an understated way, mirroring (or at least attempting to) the feeling that the other boats would have at the sudden disappearance of the ship.
Diana Simpson
Oct 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
Though the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald is a very interesting topic, I did not find this book so much. I think that with a couple of changes it would have been a better reading experience for me. First, I think this book could have benefitted from the addition of a map of the great lakes. There were many references in the book to harbors, shipping routes, and of course the location where the ship went down that I would have liked to have been able to place on a map. Second, though there was ...more
Joe Faust
Aug 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, 2014, kindle, stars-4
The story behind the sinking is more complex than you think. If you've heard the song, you still don't know the whole story.
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I really enjoyed this book. Well-written and very readable even though I know very little about cargo ships. I read on kindle but may recommend a paper copy because theres a glossary in the back that is helpful. However, I read and understood the book just fine without using the glossary. Very informative, atmospheric, and a page-turner. Highly recommend! ...more
Sep 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
I remember when I was in high school and me and a good friend on mine traveled across the US leaching dinners and beds off relatives and we came to roost at one the house of one of his uncles. We stayed there a good couple of weeks. He lived on an island on a backwater of Lake Huron not far from the town of Noble, Ontario. It was a beautiful spot, fishing, clear water, trees, peace and quite. That was a few years after the Fitz went down. His uncle had a crows nest sorta room built on the top ...more
David Fulmer
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a comprehensive account of one of the most well-known Great Lakes shipwrecks - the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Immortalised in a Gordon Lightfoot song, the massive ore carrier sank in a brutal November storm in Lake Superior in 1975 leaving no survivors and a vexing mystery as to just why it sank. No distress call was made and the crew seem to have had no warning that their ship would sink before it was too late to make any effort to abandon ship. This book provides what information ...more
Dec 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Good book overall though a little tedious in places. A book like this should really have some pictures and maps to go along. I didn't know much about this incident other than the Gordon Lightfoot song, and I feel I have a better understanding after having read this book. Overall a good book, but not necessarily a page turner.
Nov 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great book. The 3rd book on Great Lakes maritime history that I have read. Pretty much direct and to the point writing. Not a lot of unnecessary details. Got hard to put down at some points. A terrible tragedy that will leave you wondering what the heck happened! A question that will never be answered. If you aren't currently a fan of maritime disasters, this book might make you one.
Joseph Fountain
Jun 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee. ~ Gordon Lightfoot from The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

If you know anything about the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald you probably learned it from the song The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Canadian folksinger Gordon Lightfoot. However, the song is, in a few points, not quite accurate. This is by no means a criticism. Poets are entitled to creative license and much was still unknown about that fateful night of
Apr 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book surprised me, much more informative on the Wreck, and it's crew, and how devastating the loss of both were. Very well written, would have liked more photos of the Fitz, but it once again proves Mother Nature is boss. I live near the Detroit River and watch the Mighty Lake Freighters pass, eerily at nightime, lit up and cruising up river towards Windsor On. It is a splendid view of which I never tire, and now I wonder even more of their crew and how they give up Family time to be on ...more
Ann Refford
May 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Makes you want to hear the song again.

Haunting story, as always. Only thing that was bothersome was the plethora of misspellings (I have the Kindle edition). Other than that, highly recommended book.
Kristin R
Mar 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
An interesting in depth look at the mysterious ship the was lost at sea in 1975. It will never be known what exactly happened, but this gives the reader several ideas of what may have happened.
Tony Held
Jun 12, 2017 rated it liked it
While I feel Robert Hemming's "Gales of November" captured the personal stories of the Fitz's lost crew the best, Schumacher's book is the most comprehensive overview of the Edmund Fitzgerald saga yet published. He tells her story from her famous career to her mysterious destruction to the explorations that visited her haunting wreck to the poignant ceremony held at the site in 1999 that consecrated her wreck as a grave site.
Schumacher presents all the main theories about what may have led to
Nathan Mayer
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
A thorough and fascinating read about the great lakes most famous shipwreck. A shipwreck I'd heard of many times in my years, but never known any more about than just the name of it and that, with it happening in 1975, being a modern mystery. I randomly came across this book at work, while looking for a different book about Michigan, and the timing of it just seemed right so I grabbed it and gave it a shot. I learned an awful lot about what happened, what is still speculated to have happened, ...more
Robert Melnyk
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most of us have heard the song by Gordon Lightfoot, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." When I saw this book I thought it would be interesting to read about what actually happened to the ship you hear about in this song. Unfortunately, even after reading the book, you do not really know exactly what happened, because there were no survivors and no eye witnesses to the sinking of the ship. There was a lot of investigation done, including interviews with other ships captains who had ...more
Sep 05, 2018 rated it liked it
The Edmund Fitzgerald was an ore carrier the length of two football fields, plying the Great Lakes picking up and delivering cargo for decades. It went down in a massive storm in 1978 about 15 miles from its destination: no Mayday calls (even though it had been in radio contact constantly with other ships in the storm), and no survivors (29 lost). Even though the wreck was found not long after the ship sank, it's never been indisputably determined exactly why the ship sank. An interesting book, ...more
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wow! This book was amazing. At the moment the Edmund Fitzgerald sunk, you really felt like you were watching the freighter go under ... or more eerie still, like you were sinking with it. Writing fast action scenes is difficult, between being descriptive and not too long winded. It was quick and terrifying! And in the ensuing search, you could feel your blood pressure rising as the captain of the Anderson tried desperately to locate the Fitz, which had been on his radar only moments ago. I ...more
Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having spent some vacation time in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, it was hard to not think about the Great Lakes and what they represent. I like to pick up a book or two on vacation, so it was kind of a no-brainer to grab a book about the region's most infamous disaster while I was there. Not knowing more than was outlined in the famous Gordon Lightfoot song, I found a lot to like here and tons of new information. It feels like Schumacher did a great job of presenting all of the various theories ...more
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a really interesting read - I learned so much about the crew, history, and final hours of the Fitz. One aspect that was surprising to me is how relevant the Fitz still is, to surviving family members, historians, and the Coast Guard/etc. when trying to make the shipping industry safe. Another surprising thing that I did not know is that the Fitz was not alone on its journey. The Anderson was near by, and the captain was in constant contact with other ships. This book inspires me to ...more
Peter Toomey
Dec 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
I was ready to give this book about a 3.5/5, but ended up going with 2/5 for some glaring errors.

Firstly, ships have 'coamings', not 'combings'. Proper research would have shown that. How was it missed?

Secondly, the glossary at the end is woefully incomplete, missing many nautical terms that were used in the book, and which may have been helpful fir casual readers.

Thirdly, and the worst error, is the complete lack of any illustrations (save the frontispiece) of the ship, or the area of
Nov 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: year-6
Schumacher sure does like Gordon Lightfoot. Yet despite this seeming handicap he has managed to write a pretty nice little book. He fully captures what went on and what continues to go on regarding the FITZGERALD, and manages to make everything save the last two chapters engaging.

This is a must read for any one who has spent time near the Lakes. We grow up knowing about the FITZGERALD, but prior to reading it I more or less thought it was a Minnesota story: launched from Duluth and wrecked
Feb 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like many others, the story of the Edmund Fitzgerald has captured my attention ever since I first heard Gordon Lightfoot's song, so I was really excited to finally learn more about it. It took me a long time to get through this book but that's because of other conflicts, not because the book was bad. Schumacher provides a great amount of detail in a relatively short book, but it doesn't feel like you're reading dry non-fiction because he does a great job of connecting you to the crew and others ...more
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was a bit surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. While listening to some songs on my phone while taking my morning walk -Gordon Lightfoot's 'The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald' came on and made me think. I decided to get this book and read about that incident. When it happened I was in my teens and really too young to fully understand what happened. This book taught me many many things about that evening, plus, past and future events that had to do with that great ship. Now the song has ...more
Kelly Jahng
Jul 11, 2017 rated it liked it
This was an interesting read and got more so as the book went on. I do wish it had included pictures of the ship's interior, and the setting, key figures, etc. However, I enjoyed learning about the wreck and different theories surrounding its cause, as well as the investigation, ongoing controversy, and commemoration efforts.
Curt Bozif
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: great-lakes
Very thorough. One of many books about the sinking of the Fitz. This one, written most recently, has a lot in it about the investigation into the sinking and, most significantly, the later controversy surrounding the wreck both as a graveyard and as a tourist destination; as a money maker and a memorial.
Aug 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pleasure
An excellent documentary on the Edmund Fitzgerald and its demise. Strongly recommend for Great Lakes shipping lovers, ship-wreck aficionados, and non-fiction readers. If you remember hearing Gordon Lightfoot's ballad "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" you'll want to become informed on the complete story of the voyage and demise of the great ship.
Michael D
Aug 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Schumacher reconstructs the events leading to the EFs demise in great detail, and his resultant book is very worthwhile. Although the actual cause of this incident may never be known, I found myself thoroughly engrossed with details as the big ship begins to run into trouble. Id recommend this book in particular to those who remember when this wreck happened back in 1975. ...more
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“On September 22, 1958, the Edmund Fitzgerald, skippered by Captain Bert Lambert, left Rouge River bound for Silver Bay, Minnesota, where it was scheduled to pick up a load of taconite pellets to be delivered to Toledo. Not surprisingly, that very first load set a tonnage record when the Fitz passed through the Soo Locks a few days later. The ship's life on the Great Lakes had begun. The” 1 likes
“And no one on the surface had any idea of its fate. The” 0 likes
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