Sanders, Michael S. 1961-
SANDERS, Michael S. 1961-
PERSONAL: Born 1961; married; wife's name Amy (a writer); children: Lily.
CAREER: Writer. Worked as an editor for Poseidon Press, Simon & Schuster, and Pocket Books; also worked for a rug importer and a bookseller.
The Yard: Building a Destroyer at the Bath Iron Works, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1999.
From Here, You Can't See Paris: Seasons of a FrenchVillage and Its Restaurant, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A book about winemaking.
SIDELIGHTS: Michael S. Sanders wrote The Yard: Building a Destroyer at the Bath Iron Works after moving to Maine, near Bath. Sanders became fascinated with the idea of the creation of a ship, and the Bath Iron Works, founded in 1884, is one of only six shipyards that continue to build ships for the U.S. Navy. It is also the largest employer in the state. J. Eric Fredland wrote in Armed Forces & Society that Sanders "writes with a passion born of that fascination, and this book will be entertaining to a wide variety of readers, from those who know the navy and its ships well, to those who have never given a moment's thought to the process of shipbuilding."
The Yard is a study of the building of a guided missile destroyer, the USS Donald Cook, named for a Vietnam prisoner of war. Sanders begins with the delivery of sheets of steel to the shipyard and ends with the commissioning ceremony. In between, he tells of the ship's creation through the eyes of the workers with whom he spoke—the press operators, welders, pipe fitters, riggers, and crane operators who contributed to its construction; he also interviewed supervisors, the company president, navy personnel, and the ship's commanding officer. Sanders writes that the 10-million-pound, 500-foot ship took 5,000 workers 4 years to build. He describes the launching, when the ship is placed on a greased platform from which it slides into the Kennebec River. Sanders also includes a detailed description of the people of Bath and the town's relationship with the iron works.
Reviewers offered praise for Sanders's book. A Publishers Weekly contributor felt that "Sanders's own craftsmanship is as worthy of recognition as that of the shipbuilders whose story he so ably tells." Similarly, Fredland called The Yard "a very good book. It accomplishes what it sets out to do, painting a picture of the environment of the shipyard, the process of bringing a warship into being, and the lives of the men and women involved in that process. Best of all, it entertains as it educates and elucidates."
"Sanders does an admirable job of conveying the life history of a destroyer," wrote Douglas Whynott in the New York Times Book Review. "He is a superb expository writer. . . . The Yard is well worth reading if you want to know something about mysterious and powerful ships and the proud people who build and crew them—if you want to get a sense of the secret that's within a vessel like the Donald Cook, as Sanders did." Boston Globe writer Michael Kenney commented that "as more and more American workers move from jobs in which they actually produce something to jobs where they manipulate information, The Yard stands as a valuable documenting of what 'work' meant to the millions of Americans who toiled before them."
Sanders wrote his 2002 work, From Here, You Can't See Paris: Seasons of a French Village and Its Restaurant, while he and his wife and young daughter spent a year in Les Arques, France, a tiny village in which Sanders and his wife were married fourteen years earlier. He found it to be the perfect place in which to write about his passion for food and cooking. La Recreation is a successful restaurant that serves tourists and operates six months of the year out of an abandoned schoolhouse in a village of fewer than 200 people. The town experienced a revival with the opening of the restaurant and a small museum and summer artists' colony inspired by Russian sculptor Ossip Zadkine, who summered there until his death in 1967.
Sanders served as an apprentice to chef Jacques Ratier and learned the secrets behind Ratier's most notable dishes, as well as about the production of foie gras and the proper way to search for the rare black truffle. He writes of food production on the quaint farms that adhere to traditional ways and a culture that embraces only the freshest of food, prepared as it is seasonally available.
Once again, Sanders elicited warm praise from critics. Boston Globe reviewer Joseph Rosenbloom felt the book "is at its best when Sanders puts his looking glass away and simply relates those awkward moments when he and his American family must come to grips with village life." A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that "the book's back matter offers advice for travelers, but Sanders's account is so lovely, and Les Arques so sensuous and ripe with magic, to visit seems vaguely sacrilegious."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Armed Forces & Society, spring, 2001, J. Eric Fredland, review of The Yard: Building a Destroyer at the Bath Iron Works, p. 498.
Boston Globe, October 25, 1999, Michael Kenney, review of The Yard, p. C4; March 9, 2003, Joseph Rosenbloom, review of From Here, You Can't See Paris: Seasons of a French Village and Its Restaurant, p. M12.
Chicago Sun-Times, December 1, 2002, Jerry Harkavy, review of From Here, You Can't See Paris, p. 6.
Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2002, review of FromHere, You Can't See Paris, p. 1452.
New York Times Book Review, November 7, 1999, Douglas Whynott, review of The Yard, p. 43; January 19, 2003, Jillian Dunham, review of From Here, You Can't See Paris, p. 21.
Publishers Weekly, October 4, 1999, review of TheYard, p. 52; October 7, 2002, review of From Here, You Can't See Paris, p. 63.
Washington Post Book World, November 15, 2002, Carolyn See, review of From Here, You Can't See Paris, p. C2.
Michael S. Sanders Home Page,http://www.michaelssanders.com/ (January 19, 2004).
Newshour,http://www.pbs.org/newshour/ (April 21, 2000), Ray Suarez, interview with Sanders.*