An Amazon Best Book of May 2015: In 1998, a young Scotsman named Matt Lewis sought to boost to his budding career as a marine biologist by securing a position as the "scientific observer" on a fishing vessel. Though he would be considered an officer, his role would be limited and relatively tame compared to the rest of the crews’: documenting wildlife the boat encountered, while also keeping notes on the crew’s adherence to fishing regulations. A coin flip landed him aboard the Sudur Havid, a South African boat bound for the outer waters of Antarctica’s frigid and tempestuous Southern Ocean. Even though his novice eyes, Lewis was immediately struck by its apparent unreadiness, including a dearth of adequate boots and survival suits, and a crew seemingly unprepared for work in the harsh polar environment.
His misgivings were soon realized. As winds rose and whipped the seas into a ship-tossing frenzy, the fuel- and fish-heavy boat listed, taking on water. A disastrous and inexplicable chain of decisions--starting with the Sudur Havid’s chief officers and running down through the ship’s engineers and some of the crew--doomed the ship, putting Lewis in the unlikely position of organizing the frantic evacuation. These are not spoilers--Lewis’s narrative is rich with detail, putting readers in the thick of the action as the panic-struck men stuff themselves into three inadequate rafts and embark on a nightmarish struggle on the open ocean. Last Man Off is a tale of survival, not an adventure story; and while the particulars are often grim and the outcome unhappy, Lewis's book is a sort of catharsis, a compelling testimonial to his experience and the ones that didn’t return. --Jon Foro
“Reads like a sinister version of The Perfect Storm... Thrilling, compelling, unsettling, rewarding.”—Sunday Times
“A dramatic tale of survival in one of the most brutal situations on earth. Feels like reading the diary of a doomed man...so personal and chillingly real; totally takes you there in a way that is not always comfortable.”—Steve Backshall, Deadly 60