George Dibbern: His Life and Quest

Adventurer ~ Sailor-Philosoper ~ Free Thinker ~ Self-declared Citizen of the World

Reader Response to Dark Sun

Since reviewers are paid to produce copy—and I confess this is my personal view!—the comments provided by readers who voluntarily take the time to express their reactions to Dark Sun, are, I feel, of equal value. Admittedly, readers who do not like what they’ve read are less inclined to contact the author.

However, my own 91 year old Mum (in 2006) was very frank in her assessment. She’d had a life of hard work, was now legally blind due to advanced macular degeneration, yet struggled to read the entire book on her Optelec vision system which projects three lines of three inch high letters onto a computer screen—now there’s determination! Her comments? “Ooh, that George makes me really angry. If everyone lived like that what state would the world be in?” She questioned the validity of George’s having felt cheated because his own father died when George was only six: “What about his daughters? They too grew up without a father!” On the other hand, she acknowledged the personal experiences that resonated for her in Dark Sun: that bitterly cold winter of 1929 in Berlin; packaging and mailing parcels from Canada to relatives and friends in Germany after the war; listening to first-hand accounts of hardship they lived through…

George Dibbern’s story arouses many different reactions, all of which are valid and welcomed.


July 2008 Dr Rainer Borkenhagen – Vancouver BC CD
You have written a fascinating chronicle of a remarkable man. I’m sure it was an odyssey to complete the book as much as his life was and odyssey!!! I enjoyed your biography of him all the more so because he comes from the Kiel area, my birthplace. The quote on page 226, when he talks of the calm after the storm in very spritual terms, is the kind of thinking that apppeals to me.

June 2008 George Wood – Victoria BC CD
I have just finished reading Dark Sun which greatly impressed me. I agree with the statement on the book’s “monumental challenge” to write the George Dibbern story. You are to be congratulated.

December 2007 Ray Hill (referring to the reaction of a friend) – Salt Spring Island BC [She was] upset—almost to the point of violence—at George’s neglect of his wife and family. She felt the family had a much harder time of it than George had. An outstanding story, but not particularly happy.

11 August 2007 Don Craigmyle, Skipper S.V. Pegasus – Sidney BC CD
When I sailed my 28′ boat into Squirrel Cove this summer and visited the Craft Shop in the harbour, Dark Sun jumped off the shelf into my hands. Now that I am home, I have delayed any further boat work until I finished reading your masterful work. I was sad when I finished reading, a few hours ago, because I enjoyed it so much I wanted more. I read all the notes, what an amazing work of research you have done, I felt that throughout the book. Then I had to go back and reread parts, the index was helpful.

[…] I felt you ‘pulled no punches’ in the descriptions of all the characters involved, warts and all, but you have also treated everyone with dignity and respect.

[…] And yes, as another reader has commented, how sad that the family from Germany never came to visit. But that view is obvious now only after you have put the whole life of George Dibbern into perspective. It could not have been a perspective that family members would have had at the time. Such are the tragedies of life where we cannot see and understand without the view that the future would so clearly provide.

[…] Your writing and the George Dibbern story are inspiring.

22 August 2006 David Williams – Victoria BC CD
I dropped in [to the Squirrel Cove Craft Co-op] to say how much I am enjoying Dark Sun. What a tremendous job you have done. I do feel I know George Dibbern and would have appreciated him. I am going to try to find a copy of Quest as I am still not absolutely clear on what he termed his philosophy, and maybe it wasn’t altogether consistant or even coherent, though the basics of individual human freedom and the goal to be a citizen of the world are in my view admirable if virtually impossible to achieve. It is frustrating to watch freedoms being whittled away as security diminishes, and yet how can it be otherwise with the sheer growth of human numbers and complexity of technology. Yes, I share many of George’s frustrations! Perhaps my greatest frustration is watching the environment going down under a relentless onslaught of excess. Suffice it to say, this book provides lots of food for thought. A man of his turbulent times, Dibbern was also ahead of ours perhaps.

20 June 2006 Bonnie Gadless – Tallahassee FL USA
We met on the ferry a couple of years ago and I bought your book. I just wanted to tell you that I loved that book and I couldn’t put it down. I’m a world traveller myself and I just really got immersed in his story and I just loved it. The meticulous research that went into it was so obvious. Thank you for writing it – because I really enjoyed it.

17 April 2006 Lee Domann – Nashville TN USA
Your writing style is so invitational and readable. I’m no author, as such, but as a story songwriter I know the importance of character development.

Even though you’ve written a biography with the story laid out in front of you and already know the beginning, middle, and end, it’s no easy task, I would think, to sustain the reader’s dramatic interest. There is a tone that you sustain that makes it sound like a tale of adventure of the mythic variety—which, of course, it is!

Page 169 I could read over and over and over again. It reflects some of my deepest inner longings and intentions. I need to repeat the following quote many times each day as a reminder of who/what I am/want to be about: “…now that I have found what is my work, to work at something else I feel would be wrong.” Heart surgery or no heart surgery, I’m still a troubadour for as long as I can be. Thanks for the reminder, George.

I believe this story intersects the lives of all of us in more ways than one.

25 February 2006 Joan O’Reilly – Owen Sound ON CD
I have just finished reading your book, Dark Sun, and enjoyed it immensely. Thank you for bringing to it open-mindedness and a high quality of research, as well as fine writing.

20 December 2005 Gaby Hollenberg – Bad Homburg DE
Du hast es so wunderbar geschrieben, daß es [Dark Sun] auch für “Nichtsegler” hoch interessant ist.

Translation: You wrote it so wonderfully that it [Dark Sun] is really interesting for “non-sailors” as well.

12 December 2005 John Dean – Auckland
NZI have just finished reading Dark Sun and I wish to convey my congratulations on your effort.

…Your book captured the essence of the man who was known to us, his friends, as an entertaining old rogue, scoundrel, cadger whatever you will but nobody had a bad word for him. His ability to attract females was well known and many of us, although we tried our hardest, never learnt his secret.

…Thank you for your effort which gave me a deeper insight into the man. Whenever I think of him a smile comes across my face.

30 October 2005 Harry Jukes – Robson BC CD
I haven’t yet finished reading Dark Sun (in fact I am barely ½ way through), however, I have to tell you what a fantastic job you have done with it. The way you have woven all the information you have gleaned into such a readable and enjoyable narrative, I find truly amazing. And when I think of all the time and energy (to say nothing of the expenses involved) that you and your husband went to in order to obtain the source material you did, I am, to put it mildly, awed.

22 October 2005 Maria Abbott – Victoria BC CD
I started your book this afternoon and am totally enchanted. It very well written and in an interesting manner. It keeps me wondering about the emotions you impute to George but I assume that this comes from his letters and other research material. Haven’t got very far yet but wanted you to know how much I liked it so far.

19 October 2005 Rachel MacKenzie Vancouver BC CD
The more I read you book the more I marvel at how you ever got it all together. It was a monumental task and you did so well.

21 September 2005 Pat Carfra – Victoria BC CD
I just wanted to tell you that I am in the midst of reading, Dark Sun and which I am enjoying very much. You have a lively writing style that keeps the story of this amazing man moving right along.

23 July 2005 Paul Kind – Russell ON CD
Just finished the book! What a marvelous job you’ve done. The depth of research you’ve put into it, the continuity of the story, the sustained high level of interest, and the realism you’ve achieved in the characters of George and his family. I admire the passion and commitment you’ve put into this work. And the authenticity of language, that is, nautical terms and German references and reflections of that era. Nothing tacky. Dark Sun is a good mix of mystery, human interest and adventure. Well done!

George’s philosophy is still a mystery to me. On the one hand I think of him as an irresponsible drifter who seeks to justify his behavior by his ever expanding philosophy of “love is all and excuses all”, and on the other hand I can’t help thinking maybe he is on to something. In any case, the story certainly makes you think.

I hope the book takes hold in a big way and you get the credit you deserve.

29 May 2005 Iona Kind – Russell ON CD
Congratulations on all your efforts in writing Dark Sun! I want you to know I thoroughly enjoyed reading every word and never once got bored. In fact it’s still in my Bookhug as I reread parts when I get a chance. There’s much one could discuss about George and his chosen life-style but alas, not in a short email. 🙂 Personally, I agree that less is more when it comes to any government’s regulations and rules over us..but don’t get me started.;)

I’m no expert but I know what I like, and your book was a great read for me; I was sorry when it ended. Good on you for writing an excellent, thought provoking book.

12 April 2005 John Low – Springwood NSW AU
I meant to write ages ago and tell you I purchased a copy of your Dark Sun from the New Zealand source. Though I am not all the way through it yet, it truly is a fascinating story about a remarkable man! I sincerely hope it is getting good reviews and is selling well. Congratulations!

1 April 2005 Harley Stanton – Noumea New Caledonia
It’s increasingly difficult for people today to conceive the achievement of men such as George in an age when around the world races and the technology of space has pervaded life. However, you have done magnificently well to bring it to life.

20 Feb 2005 Neal Denton – Sacramento CA USA
Dark Sun was great. You are a very talented writer and dedicated, persistent researcher. Ten years is a long time to work on a project and you did a wonderful job..

10 February 2005 Jim Smith – Wentworth Falls AU
The research is absolutely awesome and so interestingly presented. THE BOOK DEFINITELY SHOULD BE DISTRIBUTED INTERNATIONALLY. Such a great story And your material is so rich that in Australia there is enough ‘left over’ for the most amazing chapter of the Hydro Majestic book – based on Dibbern’s novel and article.[…] Congratulations again on your amazing work – with proper distribution and promotion it could be a best seller.

28 January 2005 Jo Schaeuble – Vogtsburg DE
Ich habe es viel zu schnell gelesen, es ist spannend wie ein Kriminalroman. Ich habe ungeheuren respekt für Ihre Arbeit. Man meint, Sie seien dabei gewesen. […] Insgesamt zu Ihrem Buch denkt man manchmal, eine Art Kommentar oder Bewertung fehlt. Anderseits haben Sie ja durch das ganze Buch kurze oft weise Bemärkungen und Erklärungen gestreut. So treffend auch die überschriften der Kapital! Das sagt eigentlich genug und der Leser ist frei, selbst zu urteilen.

Von meiner deutschen Sicht aus wünschte ich mir noch, dass der Kontrast zwischen Nazideutschland und Dibbern beschrieben sein sollte. Hier die perfide und mörderische Barbarei, der Verlust alle Humanität und dort ein wahrer Mensch. Welch ein Lichtblick für uns Deutsche! Dass Sie diese Arbeit auf sich genommen haben, ist bewundernswert. Lassen Sie mich Dank sagen. Ohne Auftrag zwar aber doch im Namen aller Deutschen die unter der Erinnerung unserer schrecklchen Geschichte leiden. Dibbern ist – bei alle Unzulänglichkeit – Balsam für die deutsche Seele. Vielleicht dauert es noch eine Generation, bis er hier die gebührende Ehre erhält. Oder das Wunder geschieht, dank Ihre Arbeit. Vielen Dank dafür!

11 January 2005 Dr. Bertram Ploog – New York NY USA
I am still convinced that this is not a “sailing/yachting book” proper. I think you did an absolutely wonderful job in pulling all this wealth of information together and arranging it in a very readable form. It really is the story of every human, isn’t it? I mean it’s about dreams and reality (and the resulting conflicts/discrepancies) in life. One spends one’s life in trying to make the discrepancies smaller; that seems the underlying purpose for most of us. […]

I really wanted to thank you for having written this book. No one else would have or perhaps could have. And you did it so well. It’s priceless for my family, of course, but it’s also of tremendous value for anyone—not just sailing folks—who is interested in these very basic but confusing issues regarding struggles in life everyone has in some form or another.

10 October 2004 Tanya Blumel – Vancouver BC CD
I like your writing style – it really flows. I loved looking at the pictures; there’s such a variety. It’s quite a story…

4 October 2004 Bruce Bertram – Nelson NZ
I have completed reading my way through the long saga, and felt, at the last page, that I had departed from a journey with friends. It is certainly a monumental story, very well-researched and written.

3 October 2004 Alfred Stehr – Montreal QC CD
I’m up to page 100 and it’s obvious that you have a talent for story telling and placing the reader firmly into the scene which is what every writer strives for but doesn’t always achieve.

1 October 2004 Mary Dudley – Manson’s Landing BC CD
Believe me, my husband’s not a reader – and he couldn’t put Dark Sun down!

26 September 2004 Chris Barton – Blenheim NZ
I just wanted to convey how inspirational your book and subject were to me. I am sure there have been many remote spectators like myself who feel the same.

26 September 2004 Douglas Cannato – Charlottesville VA USA
I wanted to let you know that I am enjoying Dark Sun immensely. It’s nice to know that many were helpful and enthusiastic people as you gathered information for the book. That was great. I read the first seven chapters while on vacation. I am not a fast reader as I tend to savor the thoughts and inspirations that I come upon in good books. […] It’s wonderful to have this story of George especially his life before and after Quest. It is hard to comprehend leaving a family behind but in the context of what was happening in Germany and in his life at the time, it is a bit more understandable to me now. … I loved the photos and the amount of work you put into the book is obvious.

7 September 2004 Michael Zens – Berlin DE
Yesterday a friend of mine from Australia who is working for me gave me a little present her mother had brought from New Zealand: a book called Dark Sun. I don’t know when I had mentioned my interest in GD to her … I immediately started diving into it and it absorbed me completely.

3 September 2004 Bob Tracy – Whaletown BC CD
I really enjoyed the book. I never knew about the post-war hardship in Germany. I’ll spread the word about Dark Sun.

28 August 2004 John Athey – San Francisco CA USA
Thank you for writing Dark Sun, count me as a loyal fan.

28 August 2004 Peter Anderson – Gisborne NZ
Well, how do I start. Brilliant, what a book, the only book I’ve read in years that hasn’t sent me to sleep in 20 mins. …a bad dose of flu gave me the opportunity to read a few pages, and once I’d started I just had to continue. …Thank you Erika, a book I’ll treasure.

19 August 2004 Ann Green – Dannevirke NZ
I have just finished reading Dark Sun and must let you know how much I enjoyed it. I find George fascinating but still cannot make up my mind whether he is a selfish escapist or some one to be admired for his determination to stick to his ideals! I wonder what would have happened if he had not been befriended by Henry Miller. The amount of research you did was enormous and I can see how it took you 10 years.

11 August 2004 Phil Baptiste – New Plymouth NZ
I have now finished the book, but find it filling my thoughts at odd moments and I may even begin again! It was just so sad that he never saw his German family ever again, I can’t believe the children did not travel out to see him.

10 August 2004 Phil Baptiste – New Plymouth NZ
…just to say I am really enjoying your book on George’s life. I am on the last few chapters and now slowing down because I don’t want to finish! Whenever I really enjoy a book I find I do this. What a brilliant thing to do, without your book I would never have known him. Thanks again for a superb book.

7 August 2004 Lucy Forbes -Tucson AZ USA
It really moves along. I actually cried at the end.

29 July 2004 Ed Stranan – Auckland NZ
I am about half way through your book and am really enjoying learning all about George and his travels and most importantly about his attitude to life.

25 July 2004 Reiner Schlimme – Cuxhaven DE
Please excuse my impatience. Book arrived yesterday. All questions from former e-mails answered on first 15 pages! Linesplan makes me jump for joy. No more time to write. Got to read !

23 July 2004 Stephen Dunlop – Auckland NZ
I have a copy of Dark Sun and am enjoying it very much.

13 July 2004 Rolf Panny – Palmerston North NZ
I admired your detail observations in the book. More like a novel.

11 July 2004 Maureen Anderson – Gisborne NZ
Have read your book and thoroughly enjoyed it. Well done!… As to George, I am not sure what to think of him. (I never met him myself). He certainly led an interesting and amazing life but while I don’t think he meant to be selfish, he certainly appeared to put himself first. Whether that is good or bad I don’t know. If you want to achieve anything in life you do have live by your dreams.

9 July 2004 Erich Riedler (German Ambassador) – Wellington NZ
I really enjoyed meeting you at your Dibbern book presentation. I have in the meantime read the book and can only confirm what you attempted to impart to your listeners: Dibbern is a fascinating person whose work (Quest) and whose biography (i.e. your book) deserve to be made available to the German reading public.

3 July 2004 Elizabeth King – Wellington NZ
….a very attractive & enticing publication indeed, that we shall enjoy sharing with our friends.

27 June 2004 Hudson Garlick – aboard Grey Gull in South Pacific
I am reading Dark Sun on passage. I love it. I wish I had known George & Eileen—some people! My Dad was a pacifist on Christian principles and was interned during the Second World War.

12 June 2004 Mary Gordon – Manson’s Landing BC CD
What a captivating story! I loved the way Chapter 1 was a hook.

11 June 2004 Mary Dudley – Santa Cruz CA USA
…an awfully good read, very well written, not a single dead spot. It kept moving. I liked the way you gave a balanced picture of the man and how you respected his family.