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Rounding the Horn: Being the Story of Williwaws and Windjammers, Drake, Darwin, Murdered Missionaries and Naked Natives--a Deck's-eye View of Cape Horn Paperback – May 25, 2005


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Rounding the Horn: Being the Story of Williwaws and Windjammers, Drake, Darwin, Murdered Missionaries and Naked Natives--a Deck's-eye View of Cape Horn + Patagonian & Fuegian Channels Waterproof Map: Chilean Fjords Cruise Chart - Cape Horn, Ushuaia, Magellan Strait + Uttermost Part of the Earth
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (May 25, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465047602
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465047604
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.2 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #813,761 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Even landlubbers may recognize Cape Horn as the Americas' southernmost tip. Between this crag of rock and Antarctica lies the Drake Passage, whose waters are the planet's most consistently violent. Of a trip through these latitudes, sailors warned, "Below 40 South there is no law, below 50 South there is no God." Murphy, a mystery writer and nautical journalist, sailed there from Ushuaia, Argentina, in a 53-foot sloop and carefully points out that he only visited the island rather than sailing around it. He revels in the tales of those who made the entire trip, however, and spends much time vividly recounting their adventures, found in old books with thrilling titles like The World Encompassed and A Two Years' Cruise off Tierra Del Fuego. Nautical buffs will find some of these yarns familiar: Darwin's South American voyages aboard HMS Beagle were the subject of last fall's Evolution's Captain, by Peter Nichols, and Murphy's version adds little to the story beyond subtle interpretive differences. Another chapter touches upon the U.S. Navy's South Seas Exploring Expedition, chronicled at length by Nathaniel Philbrick in Sea of Glory (also published last fall). Yet such narrative retreads are offset by the details of Murphy's own voyage (his desire to explore almost set off an international incident with the Chilean government). As exciting as Murphy's historical yarns are, it's always a treat to return to him and his crew as they brave the elements at the end of the earth. Maps.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Cape Horn is the southernmost point of South America, in the Tierra del Fuego archipelago. Murphy, a novelist and journalist, sailed to Cape Horn in 2000. He chronicles the history of the cape and describes in detail the many ships that have made the voyage, battered by the unique weather with its treacherous winds. Francis Drake and Robert FitzRoy are two of the many explorers whose voyages Murphy recounts here. (FitzRoy was the captain of the Beagle and Charles Darwin was its most famous passenger.) Much of the book deals with Murphy's own trip to Cape Horn. In vivid prose, he describes the ship and observes and wonders about birds and other animals; he makes readers experience the island wilderness as if firsthand, and feel for themselves the driving rain and wind that he encountered. The book will interest those looking for an adventure but too frightened to actually make the trip. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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I think anyone that likes historical events would enjoy reading this book.
Mary J. Hall
Mr. Murphy tells of trip he made to Cape Horn to explore the region with several companions but he also spends a great deal of time discussing the history of the area.
Kevin D. Fritze
The overall sense of balance to the book, and the wealth of information about an undernoticed area of the world, made this a very satisfying read.
J. Gunter

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By K. Floy on July 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is the account of the author's trip to Cape Horn and the surrounding archipelago. Murphy weaves in to this account the history of the Cape Horn region, including some of the experiences of the many sailing ships which rounded the Horn and the interactions between natives and Europeans in the region.

The historical segments of this book are quite good, although far more information on Magellan and Drake is given than is needed to tell the history of Cape Horn. But by and large, the historical parts of this book work quite well and are satisfying to the reader. Much less interesting is Murphy's account of his wanderings through the archipelago. His 21st century experience is dull and uninteresting when juxtaposed against the rich history of Cape Horn.

In spite of this shortcoming, the book is certainly worth a read by those who are interested in learning more about this intriguing part of the world.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Kevin D. Fritze on June 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I recently bought this book because it caught my eye in a bookstore. I have long been a fan of geography and I also love the sea lore surrounding Cape Horn. The Cape is the stuff legends are made of! I (like most people) have only been exposed to Cape Horn from history books and various movies such as "The Bounty" and "Master and Commander" but this book fills in all the gaps. This book is a fun and entertaining read. Mr. Murphy tells of trip he made to Cape Horn to explore the region with several companions but he also spends a great deal of time discussing the history of the area. He tells the reader about the famous explorations of Magellan, Drake, Darwin and many others who experienced the wrath of the Horn. This book would be great for anyone wanting a fun summer read - plus anyone wanting to know more about one of the neatest places on Earth - Cape Horn.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By R S Cobblestone VINE VOICE on December 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I picked up this book only because my children had returned from a visit to the Antarctic Peninsula and Ushuaia, Argentina. I listened to their stories and I looked at their photographs. I surfed the web, chatted with friends who had been stationed there, and read Kim Stanley Robinson's book Antarctica (another good read). Rounding the Horn was a book I spotted in an airport bookstore that I thought my kids might be interested in.

They weren't.

So I read the book.

Rounding the Horn is not a tale about Antarctica, although you will learn more about this continent, particularly the weather patterns associated with Cape Horn. It is a book about sailing in uncharted waters and troubled seas. It is a story of the destruction of indigenous peoples and cultures. You will be surprised at the number of famous explorers who challenged the Horn to ease access to the riches on the other side of the world. Charles Darwin himself visited, and was shaped, by his experiences in Tierra del Fuego.

This book was supposed to give the reader a greater understanding of the discovery (by the western world) of this area, of the dangers associated with crossing the Horn, of the natural and human history of the area, and how it affects a visitor's soul. It is about geography, physical and human. It is a travelogue. I think every reader will pick up on these issues, more or less. To me, it seemed that Dallas Murphy was trying to do too much with this book. There wasn't enough there to understand the native Yahgan people and their destruction. The maps, intended to keep the reader oriented with all the inlets and islands and bays, started blending in to one another, looking the same.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Prodigal Knot on February 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, but was pleasantly surprised to find it quite a good read. I am very glad that the author didn't dwell too much on his personal voyage as it was somewhat uneventful. While interesting and informative, I did not buy the book with the expectation it would be a travelogue; and it's not.

Instead, the book is rich with insightful and entertaining descriptions of the early explorer's encounters with the climate, topography and indigenous people of that time. Covering everything from the earliest Spanish explorers to the present day territorial conflicts, he also includes wrongheaded missionaries and intriguing eyewitness accounts from clipper ship and windjammer voyages.

The history of the Yaghan natives such as the "adopted" Jemmy Button and "Fuegia Basket" was wonderfully detailed for the small amount of time spent on them. The author is a keen observer of things many of us would overlook or fail to appreciate properly. This book is definitely a page turner, as the author expertly seques from his present situations to wonderfully told sea stories.

Anyone who enjoys arcane history and anything to do with sailing or ocean adventures should enjoy this tremendously. Highly recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Gunter on March 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a hard book to categorize, as it is equal parts geography, history, meteorology, and oceanography. Although none of these parts was exceptional, they added up to a very engaging survey of the southernmost part of South America.

The narrative alternates between the author's own short expedition through Tierra del Fuego and accounts of discovery, exploration, and feats of seafaring. Thankfully, the author doesn't try to overdramatize his own trip and as a result creates a nice contrast between his peaceful exploration of the area and the tumultuous history of natives, explorers and missionaries. I always feel that the danger of a book like this is that the author tries to take center stage and tell "his story," but that doesn't happen here. Instead, the author shares enough of his knowledge about Cape Horn and seafaring that the reader understands why he is so fascinated by seeing these places in person. The overall sense of balance to the book, and the wealth of information about an undernoticed area of the world, made this a very satisfying read.

I would recommend this book for those who liked Simon Winchester's Krakatoa, and vice versa.
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