Attorney and playwright Longhi recalls his three voyages as a merchant marine during World War II in the company of folk music legends Woody Guthrie and Cisco Houston. Despite some occasionally stilted dialog, Longhi's fast-paced memoir reads like a novel as the "seamen three" survive rough storms, crooked gamblers, and two torpedo attacks. Of the vivid cast of characters, the irrepressible Guthrie is the most compelling, though he sometimes drifts to the background as Longhi relates his own often hilarious exploits as ship's baker and chairman of the crew's union. (For a solid Guthrie biography, see Joe Klein's Woody Guthrie, LJ 10/15/80, still available in paperback.) Still, Guthrie's folksy persona looms above all others. With Guthrie and Houston long since dead, it is left to Longhi to tell stories that have only been hinted at in previous Guthrie biographies. Highly recommended.?Lloyd Jansen, Stockton- San Joaquin Cty. P.L
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Woody, Cisco, & Me is a "must read" romp that gives the reader rare insight into World War II experiences in the merchant marine with Woody Guthrie, his folk-singing friend Cisco Houston, and Jim Longhi, who was shamed by Woody and Cisco into joining with them. Brilliantly told - with pathos and salty humor - it is an irresistible story of bravery and hardship, sacrifice and boredom, and life and death, appealing not only to folk music fans but to those interested in tales of World War II adventures as well.From Booklist:
Attorney and reluctant sailor Longhi relates the World War II experiences of a couple of his shipmates, folksingers Woody Guthrie and Cisco Houston. Committed champions of the underdog and social justice, Woody and Cisco wanted to fight fascism, but the army would take neither--Cisco because of poor eyesight and Woody for a panoply of reasons. The merchant marine, however, badly needed to man its "hastily welded ships . . . fighting their way across the North Atlantic" to supply the Allied war effort. Like many others, Longhi had a fussin' and fightin' time of it with Woody, whose ability to attract trouble and create bizarre situations ensured Cisco and Longhi rousing adventure in spite of the boredom of shipboard routine. Somewhat lacking in the womanizing and hard drinking one has come to expect in any Guthrie bio, complete or episodic, Longhi's chronicle of Woody's service years is far more fleshed out than any previous accounts of the period and very enjoyable. Mike Tribby
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