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Men Against the Sea: A Novel Paperback – July 14, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall (1887­1951), who served together as U.S. Air Service pilots in World War I, had a highly successful literary partnership that lasted nearly 30 years and produced several worldwide bestsellers. They are best known for their high-seas adventure Bounty trilogy.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books (July 14, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316738883
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316738880
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #990,609 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Nian Blanchard on June 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
I actually picked up Men Against the Sea expecting a mundane but entertaining sea story. It started off innocently enough until the unlucky crew was sentenced to their watery fate. Then the book suddenly plunged into turbo mode. Now, for an authour to write such a long book about the adventures of 18 men on one small boat and not skip a beat is remarkable.
Captain Bligh establishes his presence on the vessel with an iron grip. His leadership skills and confidence are quite extrodinary as he takes control of boat. One cannot help but feel for the crew as they struggle against all odds. Men Against the Sea is one of those stories that swipes the reader right of their comfy couch and throws them head-first into the raging ocean. The writers describe the hunger and thirst of the men so convicingly that I actually had to grab a bite myself or starve with them! The storms and squalls are believably violent and the Island natives frightfully savage.
It is really a great adventure story. The book manages to surpass its predecessor, Mutiny on the Bounty, by leaps and bounds. From rationing food barely sufficient for one man amongst 18 hungry seamen, too eating raw fish, the crew, lead by their relentless captain, are determined to survive. You will no doubt find yourself cheering at their victories and subsequently mourning their defeats.
What makes the read even more enjoyable is the realization that it is basically a true story. Man against Nature! Trully a book not easily forgotten. It has been 4 years since I read the book and it is still imprinted in by mind.
Read it for yourself. Such books makes being an avid reader so much fun!
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By James Paris on August 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
It was a hot summer day, and I was in the mood for a sea story. I luckily picked up MEN AGAINST THE SEA and quickly became engrossed. Where the prequel, MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY, was a story of a mutiny, this one was one of the best men against the elements stories ever penned. We see a very different Captain Bligh, whose temper still flares up from time to time, but who this time is successful in managing a small crew of men in an open boat over 3,000 miles from the site of the mutiny to Timor, which is today part of Indonesia.
Fletcher Christian and his mutineers allow Bligh and his loyalists no guns, three cutlasses, a small medical kit, and a pitiful store of water and victuals. Their boat must skirt all inhabited islands because they had no gifts to give to the natives -- which in the islands at that time meant that they were risking attack every time. Their water supply came from rainstorms and occasional landings for food. They had no gear for fishing. All they had to go on were Bligh's knowledge and guts.
I actually prefer this book to MUTINY and now eagerly look forward to seeing if PITCAIRN'S ISLAND, the third volume in the trilogy, is as good.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Men Against the Sea is the fictionalized second book in the Bounty Trilogy. Mutiny on the Bounty recounts the tale of the voyage of the H.M.S. Bounty from England to Tahiti and a little way back, the mutiny, and the subsequent events that affect those of the Bounty's crew who remain on Tahiti. When last seen in that book, Captain William Bligh is cast adrift far from land in a small vessel overladen with 18 other loyal men and about 7 to 8 inches of freeboard above a flat sea. Practically speaking, their chances are slim.
Men Against the Sea begins with the mutiny and describes what happens to Captain Bligh and those he commands as they make their way eventually to the Dutch settlement of Batavia in the Dutch East Indies. Along the way, Captain Bligh and his men traverse around 3,600 miles in their fragile vessel while suffering many horrors including attacks from the native people, lack of sleep, storms, bailing for their lives, cold, thirst, too much sun, and hunger. The authors make a good decision in choosing to have the ship's surgeon serve as the narrator of this saga. This perspective made it possible for the book to include his physical descriptions of the deprivations of the Bounty's abandoned crew to help make the story more compelling. In the true spirit of a story about English tars, there is a considerable discussion of how the starvation the men experienced affected their intestinal tracts.
Captain Bligh comes across very poorly in Mutiny on the Bounty. The opposite occurs in Men Against the Sea. His leadership is one of the great accomplishments of seamanship of all time. Throughout the troubled voyage to the first landing at the Dutch settlement on Timor, Captain Bligh only lost one man.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Craig MACKINNON on October 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
I imagine the original publishers of this book had a look of incredulity on their faces when first pitched the idea for this book - put 19 men in a boat so small that they cannot move around in it, and have them sail the south Pacific for 43 days. That it was a true story no doubt helped, and that it was a companion story to the obviously interesting plot of The Mutiny on the Bounty would also have contributed to getting the go-ahead. The result is much like Tom Hanks's film Castaway - the very nature of the problem coupled with the delivery of the story makes this a riveting story. At ~200 pages, it doesn't wear out its welcome, and tells its story with the simplicity and narrative force such a tale requires.

There is really little else to say about this book, except to point out that, while it is the middle story of a trilogy, it probably can be read stand-alone or out of order of the other two. In terms of timing, it splits off from the story in "Mutiny on the Bounty," and ends sooner, so there are no real "spoilers" in the second book. I think it is, overall, a better-written story than the first. It is not as rich and detailed in presenting British sea life at the end of the 18th century, but it does bring forth the sheer magnitude of the achievement of these sailors against all odds, travelling such a great distance in an open vessel with scant supplies.
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