Customer Reviews for

Island of the Lost: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World

Average Rating 3.5
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2007

    Review of Island of the Lost written by Joan Druett

    This non-fiction book, Island of the Lost, written by Joan Druett shows the extreme measures of diversity in sudden tragedy. It is a great read for the journey to survival. In 1864 two crews and their ships were shipwrecked on one of the cold and treacherous Auckland Islands. Having been stranded on the opposite sides of the island, neither crew knew each other were there. Druett does an outstanding job of separating the ideas of two very different crews and how they interact with each other. On their journey to find the scarce Sea lions killed and skinned for their coats and oil, Captain Musgrave and his crew of four found the jackpot. In their excitement they would have never guessed they would be castaways in the near future. In a hurry to get back to Sydney for more crew and supplies, the ship, the Grafton, had been anchored in a position that worried the captain. Because of a tide and nearby storm the crew found themselves scrambling for theirs goods and swimming to shore. The next crew to become castaways was sailing in the ship called Invercaul, which was lead by Captain George Dalgarno. Coming from Melbourne, the group of twenty-five was headed to South America. Just about three hundred miles from New Zealand, they knew they were close to the Auckland Islands however, they didn¿t know just how close they were. With rainy, windy weather the crew shouted, ¿Land O,¿¿ just in time for the ship to be caught in what was later known as the ¿Jaws of Hell,¿ one of the most dangerous coasts in the world. Only nineteen survive to make it to shore, but how long can they last stranded on an icy, unbearable island? For almost two very long years, these separated crews fight for their lives. The diversity is clearly shown between the two captains as they are tested with their true leadership, and ability to keep their men alive. Although he appears to be a descent captain on board, Dalgarno¿s integrity and patients are truly tested with his crew on Auckland Island. On his side of the Island situations weren¿t as simple as they were with Captain Musgrave. Captain Dalgarno and his nineteen men did not have an unproblematic way of finding shelter and having peace with each other. Although they found a deserted village their attempts of recreating a functional society failed almost instantly. Circumstances became so out of control men began to die, and it even lead to cannibalism, leaving only three out of nineteen men. With Captain Musgrave and his five men, however, conditions ran smoothly as the men worked hard to build a cabin and manufacture their own tools. Eventually they found and created enough supplies to build a vessel in which all five men returned home. Obviously the two captains handled situations differently under the terrifying circumstances. Also the fact that Captain Dalgarno had a crew of nineteen and Captain Musgrave only had five men might have an impact on the way this state of affairs ended. With more men there is more of a chance for opinions and personalities to clash. When there are only five men involved, I assume it would much easier to have a civilized relationship between those men. Druett did a wonderful job of describing the difference between these two leaders and their crew. I highly recommend this book for a good read. It is an intelligent and exciting book.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 13, 2009

    A great story of survival in the remote reaches of the world

    "Hundreds of miles from civilization, two ships wreck on opposite ends of the same deserted island in this true story of human nature at its best - and its worst.

    Auckland Island is a godforsaken place in the middle of the Southern Ocean, 285 miles south of New Zealand. With year-round freezing rain and howling winds, it is one of the most forbidding places in the world. To be shipwrecked there means almost certain death."
    -Island of the Lost

    So begins Joan Druett's book, Island of the Lost - Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World. It is a tale that would seem implausible, if not for the fact that it is all absolutely true. In 1864, near the end of the age of sail, two separate ships did indeed wreck along the coast of Auckland Island - a tiny sliver of land sticking out of the forbidding Southern Ocean - a place that remains uninhabited to this day. By piecing together logbooks, memoirs, newspaper accounts and Druett's own personal trips to the desolate island, she is able to create a vivid account of two divergent stories of survival. The schooner Grafton and its crew of five wrecks at the southern end of the island. Through inspired leadership and the camaraderie of the whole crew, they are able to eke out an existence in spite of the vast hardships. At almost the same time, the Invercauld wrecks at the north end of the island. In contrast to the Grafton, most of the 19 surviving crew of the Invercauld quickly succumb to the elements, infighting and a leadership vacuum.

    Druett does an excellent job of weaving the two stories together, contrasting a crew working together with a crew in shambles. Her credentials as a historian insure an exhaustive level of research, while her award-winning skills as a novelist ensure that the text is entirely readable. The story moves along nicely and never fails to give the reader a sense of just how precarious the castaways' plight is. While the book spends perhaps a little too much time describing the multitude of ways to kill a seal and not quite enough time discussing the lives of the castaways after their ordeal, as a whole it is a wonderful effort at delivering a look into a place and time not widely understood. There is also a thorough collection of notes at the end that provide many more factual details. However, its greatest attribute is the way it shines a spotlight on a teachable moment of history - how survival is often determinant on who you are with and how well you work together. If you have any interest in sailing history or stories of survival in the remote reaches of the world, this is a great book to have.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted June 15, 2011

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