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On The Table Read Magazine, “the best book magazine in the UK“, in Ocean Liner Adventures, Ivan Berg shares his teenage nautical adventures from 1953 to 1957 in photographs and stories.

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Ocean Liner Adventures

In Ivan Berg’s memoir, Ocean Liner Adventures, bursts with an elegance, and sense of nautical adventure that is unfortunately lost for all time through black and white photography, and anecdotes that make you wish you had been there too.

Cruise back to the 1950s, before the days of low-cost air travel, and follow a teenager’s life at sea in the luxury liners that sailed the world’s oceans. From the Buenos Aries dock fire, to dancing the Mambo in pre-revolutionary Cuba, and the curious incident of the crepe suzette fire, Ivan Berg captivates readers of all ages and without the need of embellishment.

Ivan Berg travelled from Southampton to Cape Town on board a Union Castle liner. And then to Rio de Janeiro and down to Buenos Aires on a Royal Mail Lines steamer. He crossed the North Atlantic from Southampton to New York in under five days on Cunard’s Atlantic Express liners Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary, and lazily cruise the Caribbean on the Mauretania.

It’s all here, the fascinating and often funny stories and the stunning black and white photographs of Ivan Berg’s time at sea more than 70 years ago, from 1953 to 1957 when he jumped ship to follow his dream of being a writer. He went to sea to escape from grey, dull, and depressing post-war London, in search of adventure, to follow his seafarer heroes Jack London, Hemingway, Melville and Sabatini.

A literary treat, and a unique photographic travelogue, Ocean Liner Adventures doubles as both a captivating read and a valuable piece of social history.  But despite its amazing stories and stunning photography, what shines the brightest is Ivan’s determination to leave the grey of London far behind, and to set a course for making his dreams come true.

Ivan Berg

Ivan Berg was born in 1936 in the East End of London, (coincidentally the same year that the ocean liner Queen Mary was launched). He was evacuated during the War, passed the 11 plus and went to the Grocer’s Company grammar school in Hackney. He left at 15 to seek adventure and found it a year later when he joined the Merchant Navy.

After leaving the Merchant Navy Ivan joined the RAF in 1958 as a National Serviceman and trained as a medic. He worked at the RAF Central Medical Establishment in London’s West End. His job as assistant to the not very busy ENT consultant gave him his own office and typewriter – and importantly, spare time to write.

By the time Ivan left the RAF in 1960, he had a children’s TV series playing on Rediffusion TV, about motor racing called ‘The Chequered Flag’, and had created ‘Revs Ransome’, the popular weekly strip cartoon motor racing hero of TV Express, a comic-style adventure magazine for boys. He also had time to write a screenplay, two plays, and several short stories.

In a long media career Ivan pioneered audio book publishing with The Sunday Times, was first in the field with home and educational software for Commodore Computers, and developed a database with his wife and work partner Inge that was used to produce ‘The Guinness World Car Record’, which is now the definitive classic car database.

Ivan was with the launch team for BBC Top Gear magazine in 1993 and stayed as Top Gear’s data and new technology editor (Data Dad), for the next 17 years, until he retired in 2010.

Ivan is the author of several motoring books, including the best-seller ‘Top Gear Motor Mania’ co-authored with his son Nik.

During Covid Lockdown Ivan scanned his 1950s archive of 6×6 cm negatives and then restored them to digital high definition. In February 2022, a selection were printed to poster size and successfully exhibited in a North London gallery. Ivan Berg is 88 years old.

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