Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
  • Home
  • About
  • Archive
  • Bio Notes
  • Bookshelf
  • Contents
  • Submit
SHJ Issue 15
Fall 2016

Featured Retrospective:

The Eagle Mutiny
by Richard Linnett and Roberto Loiederman

Published by Naval Institute Press (2001)

Retrospective compiled by Clare MacQueen

Naval Institute Press
Cover of The Eagle Mutiny by Richard Linnett and Roberto Loiederman
Click on image...


The Eagle Mutiny is a remarkable achievement, balanced and painstakingly researched history that reads like a layered novel of intrigue. At the same time, those closest to the story—Donald Swann (former captain of the SS Columbia Eagle), Alvin Glatkowski (co-mutineer with Clyde McKay), and McKay’s family—as well as investigators from the government, agree that the authors have delivered a fair and honest account.

From the publisher’s description:

On March 14, 1970, two armed, young crew members took control of a U.S. merchant ship carrying napalm destined to be used in the Vietnam War, thus sparking the first armed mutiny aboard an American ship in more than a century. The mutineers sent most of the crew adrift in lifeboats in the Gulf of Thailand, then forced the captain to take the ship—manned by a skeleton crew which included several men suspected of collaborating with the mutineers—toward Cambodia. After a tense impasse with the U.S. military, the two mutineers pulled into a bay near Sihanoukville and turned the ship and its cargo of ammo over to Prince Sihanouk’s government. They declared themselves antiwar revolutionaries and were granted asylum. Two days later, however, a coup put pro-U.S. Lon Nol in power, and the two mutineers were imprisoned. Sihanouk, now in exile, charged that the CIA had masterminded the mutiny in order to deliver weapons to Lon Nol, but the mutineers and the U.S. government denied these charges.

The Eagle Mutiny, a serious piece of journalism with the narrative drive of a novel, is solidly grounded in sworn testimony and buttressed by hundreds of interviews with the crew, with investigators and with one of the mutineers. A tale of idealism and risk-taking, [this book] not only chronicles the mutiny and ensuing investigations and trials, but also looks at the psychological factors involved. As one reviewer put it: “The Eagle Mutiny is an intriguing investigation into a forgotten crime—or perhaps a forgotten act of courage, depending on the reader’s point of view.... The authors present us with a vivid picture of flawed men, flawed choices, and tragic consequences.” [*]

[*] Bruce Sharp, There, But for the Grace of Fate (reprinted in SHJ-15)

A tale worthy of Conrad that reads like a Hollywood classic. The Eagle Mutiny resolves [an] historic mystery while mapping the mysteries of good and evil that fill ordinary men’s souls.

— T. D. Allman, author of Unmanifest Destiny



And More...

The Last Mutineer, an article by Richard Linnett and Roberto Loiederman, in Penthouse (Volume 36, Number 6, February 2005):

In a blog entry dated 4 November 2010 in Hammer Down, Linnett refers to this article as “a postscript” to The Eagle Mutiny. His blog post mentions, too, that the book had been optioned. Given that book options often expire before they’re exercised, Linnett and Loiederman continue to work six years later toward their goal of seeing their book become a movie or a documentary film.

Still, as Linnett also wrote, “The SS Columbia Eagle may set sail again...”—and at Serving House Journal, we certainly hope so. We would enjoy experiencing this story on the big screen as well.

The Eagle Mutiny home page

Buy the book on Amazon

Kindle (July 2015) and Nook (August 2015) ebooks are also available, with updated info about what happened to mutineer Clyde McKay.

A gripping, interwoven tale. A surreal story of protest and piracy that climaxes in the never-to-grow-up country of dreams and nightmares...the big C—Cambodia.

— Tim Page, combat photographer and author
of Derailed in Uncle Ho’s Victory Garden



“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury