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Tim Brady discusses "Twelve Desperate Miles"
05/17/2012 7:00 pm
The award-winning Minnesota author of The Great Dan Patch and the Remarkable Mr. Savage comes to Common Good Books to tell a tale of Patton’s invasion of North Africa and the little ship that made it possible.
“Tim Brady’s yarn of the Contessa and her role in one of the most crucial episodes in WWII will delight military buffs and those looking for a well-written page turner. Highly arecommended.”—Alex Kershaw, author of The Longest Winter and The Bedford Boys
In late 1942, the United States’ entry into World War II began with the largest invasion force to ever cross the Atlantic Ocean, consisting of more than 100 ships carrying over 30,000 soldiers. Operation Torch marked the baptism of American forces in the war in Europe. Vital to its success was the SS Contessa, a little ship that prior to the war hauled bananas and hosted honeymooners sailing to the exotic ports of the Caribbean from New Orleans. Hand-picked for its mission by General George Patton, the Contessa proved to be the only ship in the whole Allied fleet capable of undertaking the desperate demands of a voyage up a shallow Moroccan river.
In Twelve Desperate Miles, veteran history writer Tim Brady depicts how Patton’s invasion plans required the delivery of 500 tons of highly combustible airplane fuel drums, along with 900 tons of bombs, to a Moroccan airfield where they could be used to support his invasion of Casablanca. In spite of the vast resources of the U.S. forces, it was determined that the Contessa, a New Orleans banana boat, was the only vessel with a draft shallow enough to make it up the twisting, well-defended river without bottoming out.
Twelve Desperate Miles tells of the Contessa’s and its colorful crew, chronicles the overall invasion and its aftermath, and brings to life the critical but unsung role played by the ship in the history of World War II.
Tim Brady is the author of The Great Dan Patch and the Remarkable Mr. Savage and a regular contributor to PBS history documentaries. A resident of St. Paul, Minnesota, he is a graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and today writes for History Channel Magazine, Minnesota, and Minnesota Monthly.
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