The Man Who Was Robinson Crusoe

The Man Who Was Robinson Crusoe
The Man Who Was Robinson Crusoe: A Personal View of Alexander Selkirk by Rick Wilson
2009 | EPUB | 3.16MB

2009 marked the 300th anniversary of the rescue of Alexander Selkirk, the Fife mariner who became the inspiration for Daniel Defoe's "Robinson Crusoe".

The story is told not only by the author but also through the words of those who knew Selkirk with three colourful contemporary accounts of Selkirk's island experiences on Juan Fernandez - two by the sailors who rescued him from the island, 300 miles off the coast of Chile (Capt Edward Cooke and Capt Woodes Rogers) and one by Sir Richard Steele, who talked with Selkirk after his homecoming. Selkirk had spent four and a half years on the island. Wilson also delves into Defoe's construction of Crusoe from Selkirk's experiences and his youth in Fife. He also covers the dramatic circumstances of his abandonment on the island when he asked to be stranded rather than risk drowning in the unseaworthy Cinque Ports.

Selkirk was right, the ship sank and the crew perished. Having been adopted as master of the ship that rescued him, Selkirk got his privateering career immediately back on track and, thanks to the success of this expedition, became a rich man. When he returned as such to Lower Largo - entering the church in all his new finery - his family and the common people almost fell at his feet. But this triumphant moment did not last. He became bored and nostalgic for his island (often sitting at a point overlooking the Forth to try to conjure it up) and, after starting a relationship with a local girl, he - and she - went back down to London.

The story does not have a particularly happy ending. While his Fife lass felt uncomfortable in London society, Selkirk abandoned her in two ways - he took another woman as a wife and went off to sea again, as lieutenant aboard HMS Weymouth. While the ship was sailing off the west coast of Africa in 1723, it was struck by yellow fever and Alexander Selkirk was among the many crew members who died. He was aged 47 and the 'new' woman finally won the long and ugly tussle over his remaining fortune.

Beyond the Hundredth Meridian

Beyond the Hundredth Meridian
Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West by Wallace Stegner
1992 | EPUB | 4.03MB

In this book Wallace Stegner recounts the sucesses and frustrations of John Wesley Powell, the distinguished ethnologist and geologist who explored the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon, and the homeland of Indian tribes of the American Southwest. A prophet without honor who had a profound understanding of the American West, Powell warned long ago of the dangers economic exploitation would pose to the West and spent a good deal of his life overcoming Washington politics in getting his message across. Only now, we may recognize just how accurate a prophet he was.

"This book goes far beyond biography, into the nature and soul of the American West. It is Stegner at his best, assaying an entire era of our history, packing his pages with insights as shrewd as his prose." —Ivan Doig

Three Ways to Capsize a Boat: An Optimist Afloat

Three Ways to Capsize a Boat: An Optimist Afloat
Three Ways to Capsize a Boat: An Optimist Afloat by Chris Stewart
2010 | EPUB | 1.85MB

Chris Stewart had a long and eclectic list of jobs. From some of the most glamorous careers – he was original drummer in Genesis - to the more offbeat - a sheep shearer and circus performer - he had done it all…or almost all. So when he is offered the chance to captain a sailboat in the Greek islands one summer, something he had never done before, he jumps at the chance. Ever the optimist, Stewart is undaunted by the fact that he’d never actually sailed before!

So begins the hilarious and wild adventures of Three Ways to Capsize a Boat. From setting the boat on fire not once, but several times in the Aegean Sea to his not-so-grand arrival in Spetses to meet the owners of the boat (who says it isn’t graceful to plow into the docks as a means of coming to a stop?), Stewart quickly catches the sailing bug. By the end of the summer, as he is facing the dreary prospect of going back to sheep shearing, he jumps at the chance to be part of a crew to follow Viking Leif Eiriksson’s historic journey across the Atlantic Ocean. Five months on a small sailboat with seven other people in the freezing waters of the Atlantic would sound like punishment to most people, but not Stewart! He takes it all in stride and always with his unfailing optimism and good spirits. From coming to terms with the long, cold nights at sea and unchanging cuisine to battling intense seasickness and managing to go to the bathroom during a massive storm (a lot harder than you’d think!), Stewart keeps his good humor…but learns, in the end, that perhaps the best things in life are worth coming ashore for.

Three Ways to Capsize a Boat is travel writing at its best, crackling with Chris Stewart’s zest for life, irresistible humor, and unerring lack of foresight. Dry land never looked more welcoming!

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