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Wreck of the Medusa: Mutiny, Murder, and Survival on the High Seas Paperback – August 1, 2007


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Wreck of the Medusa: Mutiny, Murder, and Survival on the High Seas + Batavia's Graveyard: The True Story of the Mad Heretic Who Led History's Bloodiest Mutiny + Skeletons on the Zahara: A True Story of Survival
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing; First Thus edition (August 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1602391866
  • ISBN-13: 978-1602391864
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 5.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #480,976 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“One of the strangest and most horrifying true stories ever told.”—John Fowles
“One of the grisliest of sea epics…a first-rate piece of work.”—Newsweek

About the Author

Alexander McKee is the author of Wreck of the Medusa and over 50 other books.

Customer Reviews

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See all 11 customer reviews
Wretched, Captivating, Astounding and Courageous!!
Mary D.
Btw, if you read these books, like them and have suggestions of your own to share with me, feel free to leave them for me.
Cowgirlinthesand
The saying, "the truth will out" is what happened.
James Denny

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ned Middleton TOP 1000 REVIEWER on August 2, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a tale of human endeavour and tragedy so great that an oil painting of the survivors from the wreck of the Medusa on board their raft actually hangs in the Louvre Art Gallery in Paris. It is a story of a shipwreck in the early part of the 19th Century where a few of those who survived the original wrecking set out on a raft seeking rescue. Many of them made it - but many did not.

It is a harrowing tale of survival against everything that both life and death can throw at a group of people when they are at extreme disadvantage.

Once again Alexander McKee provides the reader with a well researched and equally well presented book based on a factual story from the sea. It is also an excellent read - which is exactly what I have come to expect from this author.

NM
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cowgirlinthesand on June 3, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Most of the adventure books I read have so many reviews that they don't really need another one from me (Endurance, Into Thin Air, etc.). However, looking at the 7 measly reviews for such a great story, I felt this one needed me (wink wink). Btw, if you are looking for the best book on the Medusa, THIS is the one. The other book with the same name deals more with the painting done after the event.

I read this book immediately after having read 'Skeletons on the Zahara' by Dean King and it was a great one to follow that book with because they both took place on/off the same general coast of West Africa. This book is such a page-turner because the protagonists are so utterly detestable and oblivious to their own selfish behavior that you can't believe they actually existed (people who would rather save their own luggage than human lives!?). Propelling you forward is the page-turning urge to see everyone held accountable for their behavior. The story comes complete with a real-life pair of Nelly-Olsen-and-her-mom characters that will have you livid. The book is a perfect blend of the actual adventure and the political fallout which followed this terrible misshap that could have easily been prevented.

I highly reccommend reading this book in conjunction with 2 other edge-of-your-seat real-life adventure books: 'Skeletons on the Zahara' by Dean King, and 'In the Heart of the Sea' by Nathaniel Philbruck. They all took place within 5 to 10 years of each other and all are quick-read page-turners. You won't be disappointed with any of them!

Btw, if you read these books, like them and have suggestions of your own to share with me, feel free to leave them for me. I'm always on the lookout for gripping true adventure stories that I've yet to read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Deja Cheek on April 13, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was a compelling account of events surrounding the grounding of the French sailing ship Medusa off the coast of West Africa during the early 1800's. The events were unfortunately real, otherwise it would be a tragicomedic litany of wrong headed command decisions taken by its Captain. The last part of the book contrasts events with a similar shipwreck off the coast of Indonesia, but with a much better outcome: the Captain there took firm response to his situation, and was rescued without losing a man, even though he had to fight off Dyak natives bent on plunder and capture.

I also was struck with the relatively uninterested attitude of the British press and Navy in response to the scandal that broke out in France over the news of shipwreck. Sort of along the lines of "It's the French Navy, what did you expect?"

The book also touches on how Gericault's painting of "The Raft of the Medusa", which hangs in the Louvre, came about.

The military services like to use "Twelve O'clock High" and "Apollo 13" as leadership training material on what to do in times of crisis. Were this book a movie, it would have served as a great training film on what NOT to do!
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By J. Peterson on August 30, 2009
Format: Paperback
A great adventure story, but an even better study of leadership in a crisis.

La Méduse was a French frigate that sank off the coast of Mauretania on its way to Senegal in 1816. There were 400 people on board; some survived, some did not. Like the Titanic 96 years later, there were boats enough for only half of the passengers. But unlike the Titanic, the captain of La Méduse quickly left his ship in the best lifeboat. What happened to the others, who provided the leadership, who survived and why - all provide a fascinating study on these subjects.

An interesting further insight is "just how do these things happen, anyway?" Although ocean voyages in the sail-powered wooden ships of the early 19th century were more hazardous than those of today, this was a mundane voyage with little danger, yet one that ended in a totally preventable catastrophe when the captain took a shortcut through a known navigational hazard. Yet the reasons for this - and the blame - are complex and not confined to a single cause or person.

Why do things go wrong in business today? You can see the same forces at work as there were in France of 1816:
- An unqualified person appointed to a leadership position due to his connections.
- An important participant who was so focused on achieving a single results that he goaded others into unwise actions.
- A faulty organizational structure.
- Ignoring the advice of experienced people who saw the impending danger.
- Individuals who are so locked in competition with others nearby them that they ignore greater mutual dangers.
- Failure to prepared and to plan ahead.
- And of course, hubris.

Sounds just like a lot of corporate stories of the modern world, even if we have fewer fatalities today. All part of the human experience, it seems.
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