Books: The Reluctant Idol

WANDERER by Sterling Hayden. 434 pages. Knopf. $6.95.

He had no screen career to speak of —nothing to compare with Cooper or Gable or Bogart. But Sterling Hayden was a celebrity of sorts in Hollywood. His irresistible appeal was that he was the authentic article. He had gone to sea at 17, dory-trawling for haddock, hake and scrod from ramshackle schooners on the stormy Newfoundland banks. At 22 he was a master mariner. His first command was a brigantine, which he sailed to Tahiti. He spent the war as an OSS officer operating with...

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