Shipping Book Club

Anybody interested in a shipping book club? Below is a list of books I have read recently that have the commercial realities of shipping at their core. I learnt something new about shipping from each of these books, and each is worth a space on your Kindle. I still chortle to myself when I remember Matt McCleery’s description of a kids soccer game in “The Shipping Man”. The novel feels almost autobiographical with a whiff of that was nearly me.

Shipping Book Club List

John Guy is famous for his long walks, but I don’t think his “The Reluctant Pirate” is an explanation for one of his absences. It does ring true to life, and in his position as PR may have brought him close to some of the City types in the book.

One man I would like to meet, if a little warily, is Max Hardberger (that is his real name). Today his business lifestyle would be prime reality TV fodder alongside “Ice Truckers” and “Swamp-Loggers”. He is a ship and plane repo man working the non-tourist side of the Caribbean. The writing is easy to read and races along, but then he has a degree in English among his other qualifications.

All three writers would aspire to the success and revenue Joseph Wamburgh has generated as an author. Once a full time cop in LA, Wamburgh’s books are anecdotes of police action strung around a central theme. In his latest book “Harbour Nocturne” the theme is true love in the unlikely surroundings of San Pedro Bay (pee-dro), which we know as the Port of LA / Long Beach and the largest container (cans) port in the US. If you want to know why US ports have labour issues, read “Harbour Nocturne”.

 Please let me know if you have read any good shipping books recently.


About Craig Jallal
A shipping analyst whose feels the need to comment on the industry.

6 Responses to Shipping Book Club

  1. David Osler says:

    Currently reading ‘Dynasties of the Sea’ by Lori Ann LaRocca, a series of pen portraits of high profile shipowners. I would recommend it to any shipping outsiders looking for a crash course in the industry, and even old hands will pick up snippets they didn’t know already.

    I am also reading ‘The Bank and the Sea’ by David Souden, a history of RBS’s ship finance activity, after Lambros Varnavides kindly sent me a copy. It’s rather drier, but still good for those with an interest in business history.

  2. Alexander Grødeland says:

    These are the shipping books I’ve read and plan to read, whereas most of them are biographies of shipowners. However, most of them are Norwegian and only available in Norwegian. The good thing about the Norwegian books is that they can be read, free of charge, on the website of the National Library of Norway ( – if you have a Norwegian IP address.

    Dynasties of the Sea, LoriAnne LaRocco (available on Amazon/Kindle)
    The book takes on shipping in general and with interesting, but short, portraits of powerful people in shipping. Great read!

    The Shipping Man, Matthew McCleery
    Entertaining story of an investor obsessed by becoming a shipowner.

    Those Fabulous Greeks, Doris Lilly
    Book about the intertwined lives of the three big Greeks: Livanos, Niarchos and Onassis. The writing is a bit gossipy, but entertaining.

    Ari: The Life and Times of Aristotle Onassis, Peter Evans
    The story of the charismatic Greek who went from selling tobacco in Argentina to become the world’s largest tanker owner.
    – There are numerous books on Onassis

    Proud to be in Shipping, Helmut Sohmen
    Proud to be in Shipping is a collection of works by Helmut Sohmen, chairman of BW Group.

    First Sea Lord: The Life and Work of Sir Y. K. Pao, Robin Hutcheon
    Y.K Pao was the founder of Worldwide Shipping. Have not read it yet, but looking forward to it.

    Autobiography of a Shipping Man, Erlind Dekke Næss
    Autobiography of the shipowner who invented the OBO-tanker and “predicted” the crisis in 1973 which tumbled Reksten. Highly entertaining.

    The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt, T.J Stiles
    Vanderbilt was an American industrialist and philanthropist who built his wealth in shipping and railroads
    – There are numerous books on Cornelius Vanderbilt

    NORWEGIAN books

    John Fredriksen (Storeulv), Hauge&Gunnar Stavrum
    Unauthorized biography of “Big John” Fredriksen: The world’s most powerful man in shipping (Lloydslist 2012).

    Røkke, Hauge&Gunnar Stavrum
    The history of how Kjell Inge Røkke went from a fisherman in the US to being the largest shareholder of Aker.

    Reksten, Kristian Ilner
    Hilmar Reksten was a Norwegian shipowner who, set to be the biggest tanker owner in the world, built his empire on tankers operating in the spot marked and with heavy debt. He nearly succeeded.

    Other books on Reksten:
    – Hilmar Rekstens Eventyr, Erling Borgen
    – Jakten – På sporet av Hilmar Reksten, Jens Kristian Thune
    – Opplevelser, Hilmar Reksten

    Eventyret Anders Jahre, Alf R. Jacobsen
    Anders Jahre was a Norwegian shipping magnate who built the conglomerate Kosmos and was immense in whaling.

    Dynastiet Bergesen, Alf R. Jacobsen
    The story of how Bergesen became one of the world’s biggest shipowner.
    – There are numerous books on Bergesen

    Fred. Olsen, Odd Harald Hauge
    Unauthorized biography of Fred Olsen and how the imperium has gone through five generation.

    Jacob Stolt-Nielsen- en gründer, Kristian Ilner
    Jacob Stolt-Nielsen invented the parceltanker and became the world’s biggest shipowner of chemical tankers.

    Mitt liv som kapitalist – 49 år i shipping, Arild Gerner-Mathisen
    Arild Gerner Mathisen tells about his 49 years in shipping.

    • Craig Jallal says:

      Thanks Alexander,

      We had a book on Onassis in the bank. Every time we moved office I took it with me, even though it was massive and weighed as much as an armchair. When I told to clear the London shipping office I couldn’t take it home, nor did I want to throw it away. I placed it in one of the forty or so archive boxes. An interesting surprise for someone!

  3. Sarah Noonan says:

    Craig – Thanks for the Shipping Man mention and I see you have also mentioned us in your post on marine conferences.
    David – Glad to hear you are enjoying Dynasties of the Sea. We would love for Lloyd’s List to review the book.

  4. Sarah Noonan says:

    Reblogged this on The Shipping Man and commented:
    Shipping analyst Craig Jallal recommends “The Shipping Man” in a shortlist of industry book picks.

  5. Silvana Pachon says:

    Also check out A Commodore of Errors by John Jacobsen. Jacobsen is a graduate of the United States Merchant Marine Academy and his book is an exceedingly funny take on the Academy and the Merchant Marine. Well reviewed by Book List and others, A Commodore of Errors is required reading for anyone with an interest in the arcane but never dull world of the merchant marine.

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