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No Greater Glory

The Four Immortal Chaplains and the Sinking of the Dorchester in World War II

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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.

From the Hardcover edition.

Publishers Weekly Review

Apr 12, 2004 – The U.S. Army Transportation Service troopship Dorchester was torpedoed in the North Atlantic, 100 miles south of Greenland, on the night of February 3, 1943. As a former luxury liner, the ship went down quickly. Of the 900 passengers and crew, 597 were military personnel, and four of those men were the ship's chaplains—Methodist senior chaplain George Lansing Fox, rabbi Alexander Goode, Dutch Reformed minister Clark V. Poling and John P. Washington, a Roman Catholic priest. Each chaplain distributed life vests as the ship went down and then gave up their own when supply ran out. (There were approximately 200 survivors.) Former Washington Post correspondent Kurzman (Fatal Voyage) follows the men from their enlistments to that fateful night, detailing their families and travails along the way. The result is the fullest reckoning yet for the men who have become known as "The Four Immortal Chaplains," who have previously been commemorated by the U.S. Postal Service, with a stamp issued in their honor.
No Greater Glory
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Military
  • Published: May 11, 2004
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Seller: Random House, LLC
  • Print Length: 288 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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