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The Cruise of the Breadwinner is an adventure at sea, following Snowy as he comes of age through a shower of sea-spray and bullets. The youngest crew member on a coastal patrol boat, he longs for action as his sharp eyes pick out distant plane battles and his ears strain to the sound of faint gun-fire. But when finally the war envelops him and his crew-mates in its terrible grasp, he must face the realities of pain, fear, and death. Rescuing two downed pilots, one English and one German, the humanity of the enemy and the true cost of war become all too clear. Here Bates exhibits his staggering ability to write character, building an exhilarating tension on board with the dynamic between the grumbling yet skilful engine operator, the wide eyed enthusiasm of Snowy, and the rotund, clumsily tender Captain. We witness the impact of war's heroics and futility on the boat and the boy during a short, violent voyage off the coast of England, told with such fluency and lightness of touch that it is a tale of action as well as beauty. The New York Times said that Bates "painted it all with a loose, sure brush that does not waste a stroke. ?