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Darwin Books SLAEI Series


Starboard at Midnight


by Helen Behr Sanford



About the Book:
    At the end of James Cameron’s movie, Titanic (1997), the narrator says: “Survivors waited and waited for absolution that would never come.” Helen Newsom and Karl H. Behr were amongst them. Karl was hailed as a rising tennis star, but when he survived the infamous sea-time disaster, his affiliation with guilt had little reckoning until he plunged into activism with Theodore Roosevelt. This was a historic time before and during the Great War when many German-Americans were censored and locked away.
    Karl’s remarkable life included interaction in Brooklyn gang wars during his boyhood, mining for silver in Mexico, business concerns, law, and tennis. For a decade he was ranked in the top ten, twice reaching third in U.S. tennis standings, and played for the Davis Cup. Later, he was credited with bringing the championships from Rhode Island to New York.
    Combining research and imagination, along with the resource of Karl’s memoir, their granddaughter revivifies the life of a man consumed by competition, the experience of a woman that had remained unspoken, and the twists of love and fate between them.

About the Author:
   Helen Behr Sanford, a.k.a. Lynn Sanford, grew up at Pretty Brook Farm in Princeton, NJ. She attended Miss Fine’s School, and Westover School in Middlebury, CT, and graduated from Wheaton College in Norton, MA. Lynn also attended the New York University Graduate English program, the Bread Loaf writer’s school, the Cambridge (England) Summer program, and studied with the late Theodore Weiss at Princeton University.
   Lynn’s love for contemplation inspired her passion for literature and kept her enthralled with the printed word in one form or another.
   She has traveled widely and has raised two sons with her husband on a small farm outside of Princeton.

   “Starboard at Midnight is a delightful book that weaves together history and fiction to tell the true tale of a fascinating man from a fascinating time in American history. Sanford leads the reader on a journey from the cobblestones of Brooklyn Heights to the wild mountains of Mexico, from the courts of Wimbledon to a lifeboat among the wreckage of the tragic Titanic.”

Debby Applegate, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher”


“When hundreds died and you should have gone with them, it is difficult to cope with such pressure. Starboard at Midnight tells the story of Karl H. Behr, a German American who survived the tragedy of the Titanic. Famed as a rising tennis star, he joined activism with former President Theodore Roosevelt in his own way of facing survivor's guilt. Starboard at Midnight is a moving bit of biography and history, very highly recommended reading.”

—Midwest Book Review


“...a literary treat in the rising tide of books about the century-old disaster.... Amid the hubbub of glossy pictorials, in-depth chronicles, and pure junk has emerged an intimate literary gem, Starboard at Midnight, a novelized treatment of the lives of Titanic survivors Karl Behr and Helen Newsom.... With all the drama and intrigue that charges a spy thriller, and punctuated by bursts of eloquent prose, Sanford's well-woven tale fleshes out the grandmother she cherished and reclaims an elusive grandfather she never knew but felt compelled to discover. The romance of Behr and Newsom is familiar to Titanic aficionados, but its retelling from such close quarters offers fresh nuance.... The book’s 38 illustrations are in themselves worth its purchase price.”

—Randy Bryan Bigham, Encyclopedia Titanica


“First, to unearth (and then publish!) the heartfelt secrets of a grandparent is such a profound act of love. And through your exquisite prose, the love you feel for your grandfather came through every page. The way you wove the past and ‘present’ together in such an elegant, yet very accessible means was a delight for the reader. In particular, I enjoyed being an eyewitness to the love affair between Helen and Karl that blossomed into a mutual devotion we so rarely see today.
“The painstaking research you must have conducted was evident in the details of the dialogue and the descriptions of life in Brooklyn and Europe. What fun you must have had going back in time in such luscious surroundings that were so personally relevant to your family's history. A journey of the heart, no doubt.”

—Katharine W. Denby


“You are the artist with your romantic descriptions of the world and its relationships, so the depth of your writing is really significant.... you made the argument of how it all happened just BRILLIANT.”

—Charlotte V. Smith


“Your book is wonderful, and I have cited it in a piece I have just written for the Literary Review about the best Titanic books. You tell a powerful, moving story which … readers will love.”

 —Frances Wilson, Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and author of How To Survive the Titanic


More Information


38 plates; 8 photographs
Size: 6" x 9"; xiv, 308 pages
ISBN 978–0–87850–200–4 (hb)                $24.95   Buy it at Amazon.com!
ISBN 978–0–87850–201–1 (1st Ed.) (pb)  $14.00   Buy it at Amazon.com!

ISBN 978–0–87850–204–2 (2nd Ed.) (pb) $14.00   Buy it at Amazon.com!
ISBN 978–0–87850–202–8 (e-Book)         $9.99  (Available on Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble, iBookstore, and Sony eBook readers!)