“Hell, I suppose if you stick around long enough they have to say something nice about you."

Ava Gardner

Reviews for Ship of Lost Souls:  [Pre-Order here]

“Riveting! A stranger-than-fiction tale that memorializes the Valencia among the great lost steamships of history—and one lost in the most jaw-dropping of ways.” —Daniel Stone, national bestselling author of Sinkable: Obsession, The Deep Sea, and The Shipwreck of the Titanic

“A fascinating story of tragedy, terror and drama that has been well researched and passionately told. Hard to put down once you start reading.” —Richard M. Jones, author and historian

“A fascinating and highly engaging account of one of the greatest marine tragedies to strike the west coast of North America. Equally impressive is the fact that the author goes out of his way to highlight the important role that the wind and oceanographic conditions played in the tragedy. Had the vessel’s captain taken into account the ship's drift associated with the strong northward-flowing, wind-driven currents known to prevail off the Pacific coast of the US and Canada in winter, the ship might have successfully entered the Strait of Juan de Fuca during the storm and the tragic loss of so many lives would have been averted.” —Richard Thomson, oceanographer; author of Oceanography of the British Columbia Coast

“Scher details the background, key people, decisions, and circumstances that led to the grounding of SS Valencia and the tragically avoidable loss of life. His book reads like an adventure novel, except that it isn't fiction. Like virtually all marine accidents, the loss of Valencia was avoidable. The weakest link in the chain of events was and continues to be the decisions of honest, hard-working, and well-experienced people. Today's yacht and ship crews need to read this book so they can manage their decisions and successfully avoid disaster.” —CDR. John E. Harrington, USCG (Ret.)

“A completely engrossing saga. I could not put it down! Scher combines insightful historical perspectives along with weaving fascinating information on both the inventions and seafaring conventions of the time. While examining the reasons for this disaster, Scher shows how easy it is after the fact to place blame and second-guess each decision made that leads to tragedies. At turns both fascinating and heartbreaking, Scher’s book is a perfect addition to any sailor’s library.” —Patricia Wood, sailor and author of Lottery (short-listed for the 2008 Orange Broadband Prize for Women’s Fiction in the UK)

“Through meticulous research and exacting detail, Scher builds the story of the SS Valencia and makes it come alive by putting the events and people in historical context. And he doesn’t leave out the human component. He makes you care about both passengers and crew—those who survived and those who didn’t—and reveals both heroes and cowards, leaving it up to the readers to draw their own conclusions.” —Valerie Davisson, author of the Logan McKenna mystery series

Reviews for Sailing by Starlight    [Order here]

A captivating chronicle of an amazing journey, Sailing By Starlight is recommended for sailors and history buffs alike.

A fascinating piece of non-fiction about Marvin Creamer’s journey around the world—without the use of instruments—told in beautiful prose that gives so much life to this story. For history buffs, fans of seafaring tales, or those who simply want to read about a truly fantastic journey by an incredibly interesting person, you won’t want to miss out on Sailing by Starlight.

Sailing by Starlight is a superb sea story that harkens back to the days when sailors relied on all their senses rather than on technology to navigate.  Marvin Creamer displays throughout the story incredible faith in his abilities and senses as well as resolute perseverance against all odds as he and his crew circumnavigated the world in S/V Globe Star.

I’ve had the pleasure of reading Sailing by Starlight, and I tip my hat to Marv Creamer and the crews of the sailing vessel Globe Star. Sitting here in New Zealand aboard our “giant-sized” ocean-crossing sailboat, Tango, I was thrilled, concerned, and sympathetic while reading this epic adventure.  I completely understand Marv’s focus and the self-reliance that enabled his success.  This was a wonderful read for anyone with desire to read a real adventure with real people.

Sailing By Starlight is a book about a saga, a quest, a journey. It is meticulously written, exhaustively researched, and a compelling read. Sailors and non-sailors alike will be fascinated by the story of Marv Creamer and his lifelong goal (obsession) of sailing around the world without instruments. It is truly a remarkable achievement and author Rod Scher has managed make Marv’s story accessible to readers who may not be familiar with nautical terminology and also to those who understand the demands of world cruising. Sailing By Starlight chronicles a remarkable journey and is a captivating read. 

A thoroughly researched and well-written book that's as much about problem-solving and strength of character as it is about adventure.

Reviews for Sailing Alone Around the World

In this annotated account of the world's first solo circumnavigation, Rod Scher's material helps us understand the world of 1895 so we can better appreciate author Joshua Slocum's accomplishment. If I could read only one boating book this year, I'd choose this one.

(Slocum) sailed solo around the world in 1895-8 in his 37-foot sloop SPRAY and wrote this classic account of his adventures...After (Slocum's) historic and successful voyage, his book makes him a national hero. Some years later, he sets off again in SPRAY heading for the Amazon River; sadly he was never heard of again....It was interesting to read...Rod Scher's annotations as side notes. Rod's commentary enhances the original script adding greater meaning to each incident.

Captain Joshua Slocum's Annotated Sailing Alone Around the World is annotated by Rod Scher, a teacher/journalist who provides explanations, commentary, and history to make Slocum's saga more accessible to modern readers. This clarification of Slocum's voyage in his wooden SPRAY packs in side bars of detail and enhances every page. Nautical libraries need this.

Reviews for Two Years Before the Mast

Rod Scher is an ideally informative and amiable companion as he follows Dana on his exciting and exhausting voyage—he places Dana fully in his time and place, offering historical and cultural contexts for the writer's experiences, observations, and expressions. Scher knows how to inspire a sense of historical imagination in his readers, without forgetting who we are now. Scher can be proud of his own achievement in bringing such factual detail and humane judgment to this edition.

An enjoyable and fascinating look at a [classic]. The modern reader navigating Dana’s story is given a global view in retrospect, which adds much to Dana’s narrative and offers a glimpse of the views and opinions of that time and place. Scher’s The AnnotatedTwo Years Before the Mast takes a classic tome and repackages it with seafaring terms defined and historical references in place, thereby transforming it into a gripping tale for any avid sailor, history buff, or literary aficionado to enjoy.

Rod Scher has done it again, this time with his brilliant annotation . . . . Scher’s annotation reopened this classic for me. This is a careful and thoughtful work, never dry and often with a subtle twist of humor, yet always sensitive to Dana’s themes. Reading this annotation brings young Dana’s chronicle into sharp, poignant relief in an almost new and very exciting way.

Reviews for Leveling the Playing Field: The Democratization of Technology

An extremely relevant book for our times, Leveling the Playing Field does an amazing job documenting how technology has changed our society. Written in a style reminiscent of the James Burke Connections series, Rod drives home why the encryption debate is so important for the preservation of our rights, and why some governments so desperately want to restrict access to encryption technology.

Don’t let the cover fool you. Although this book’s plot line traces the history and democratization of technology, its heart is about human nature: how and why we create tools, how tools are used to dominate and suppress others, and how in the end our inventions become accessible to everyone – sometimes for the worse, but far more often for the better. Scher is a witty tour guide as he illuminates more about humankind and our inventions than you might expect.

I read Leveling The Playing Field in two days, thoroughly engaged by the topic and author's writing style. Rod Scher clearly shows how technology is a powerful tool for disseminating information that began as early as prehistoric days. The questions he raises about the possible consequences that technology brings to everyday life are truly alarming, making this an important and fascinating book with a theme that affects all of us.

Rod's extensive research into the history of technology is both impressive and engrossing. I found myself being drawn into each chapter and having a hard time putting it down. Rod takes an approach that gives you the deep dive history into the tech he is talking about and applies that history to its impact today. Rod is equal parts entertaining and educational. 

A fast-paced and enlightening adventure, Leveling the Playing Field journeys from from fire to Firebee drones to the infinite possibilities of 3D printing. While Gutenberg's "start-up company" in Germany and Agatha Christie's husband's excavations in Mesopotamia will engross you, the author's asides about a potbellied piglet, Betamax, and presidential canines will amuse you.

Leveling the Playing Field is engaging, entertaining, and often sneakily profound, offering expansive historical overviews and taking seriously the pitfalls of technology – all while remaining appreciative of its past accomplishments and hopeful about our shared future.

A fascinating, educational and insightful narrative look at the march of technology from cave fire and the invention of language to the Internet and 3-D printing—and the competition, politics, privacy issues and moral quandaries it has produced in its wake. Leveling the Playing Field is a swift journey through history from simple convenience and self defense to the relevant and sometimes frightening questions surrounding the technology we readily take for granted today. I thoroughly enjoyed Scher’s depth of research as well as his wit.