The Atlantic Bookshelf: A Guide to Good Books

LITERARY collaboration is the rarest of all partnerships. Addison and Steele were partners in the journalistic sense, and the harmony of words and music inspired by the collaboration of Gilbert and Sullivan is, of course, famous. But generally speaking, when two people sit down together to write a book, either one is left to finish it, or the book proves to be no good — or both.

The collaboration of Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall is founded on a war friendship. Together they were designated to write the official history of the Lafayette Escadrille, and later, finding post-war America unsettling, together they sailed for Tahiti. For a time each pursued his own bent: Hall his essays, Nordhoff his books for boys, But occasionally they have been drawn together to write what neither of them could probably have done on his own: a story of aviation, Falcons of France, then a play, now a sea novel as fine as anything since Stevenson.