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Cruise of the Snark

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  412 ratings  ·  36 reviews
Inspired by the examples of his heroes Herman Melville, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Joshua Slocum, Jack London determined to sail around the world. In April 1907 he sailed from San Francisco in the forty-five-foot ketch Snark, with his wife, Charmian, a skeleton crew, and his writing to keep him company. Beset by seasickness and tropical disease, London wrote incessantly—n ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published November 1st 2003 by National Geographic (first published 1907)
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(showing 1-30 of 819)
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josey
I loved Jack London's life when I was much younger, and well, I still do. I dreamed of sailing the seas as he had. I loved his stone house in Glen Ellen and wished to live there, and I loved and wanted all of his souvenirs from the different islands that he visited as well. I also loved that his wife went on the ocean voyage with him. And last of all, I even like some of this politics.

Back in my younger days I had a VW bug with a license plate that read, "The Snark." That is how much I loved Lo
...more
Ed Renehan
London was an expert sailor. The Snark, which he had specially built for what he thought would be an around the world voyage, was an ill-found vessel with numerous flaws which quickly became evident upon departure out of San Francisco Bay. No sea trials. Also London turned out to be the only competent sailor/navigator aboard. Not good overall. Never got out of Pacific. But great narrative.
Pam
My next Jack London book after reading "House of Pride and Other Stories" was "The Cruise of the Snark". I loved the short fiction stories in "House of Pride" and wanted to try more Jack London. (Don't know why I had never read anything other than "White Fang" to this point in my life.

"Cruise of the Snark" is fun and it takes you to Polynesia before it was totally corrupted by modern progress. (However, as Jack points out, it was already damaged greatly by the non-polynesians who had been travel
...more
Simon
The Cruise of the Snark By Jack London
I read most of this book on the Journey home from
Russia and it somehow seemed appropriate
considering the start of our trip to be reading a
book about a trip that had more than it's share
of disasters.
This Jack London book chronicles his attempt to
go on a round the world trip with his second wife
Charmaine in a boat of his own design and build.
The trip was meant to last 7 years but was cut
short to about 18 months in due to the
accumulation of diseases a
...more
East Bay J
On April 23, 1907, Jack London sailed out of San Francisco Bay to Hawaii, accompanied by his wife and a small crew, aboard the ship he built, the Snark. The details of that journey, which would take London and crew throughout the South Pacific and ultimately to Australia, are recounted in The Cruise Of The Snark.

On their journey, they encountered an amazing variety of hospitality from nearly everyone they met, the exception being the cannibals of the Solomon Islands. They also encountered an ast
...more
Jordan
Looking over people's reviews and my own experience of recommending this book, I have found that people are on or off with it. I found it delightfully entertaining from London's adventures in the realm of ship building to nautical navigation it was THE adventure to do. You must consider, would you as a writer take on the open waters of the ocean? And with such curiosity and open discussion of the encounters with natives and experiences London does an excellent job of dictating his wonder. Also, ...more
Sylvester
Just the idea of taking a few years and sailing all around the world - ! Unfortunately the plan didn’t quite work out for Jack and Charmian, but the story about what happened instead is interesting just the same.
Gerry Kantor
Pretty good, Jack London actually built a ship and sailed out into the south Pacific, facing canabills and disease in the Solomons for years, until finally contracting a strange disease which sent him back to San Francisco, California. First stop was Waikiki, where he learned to surf from "Freeth" presumably George Freeth, hawaiian surfing pioneer. Devoted a few pages to his surfing and how much he liked to surf, and staying in Hawaii for a few months just surfing. In any case, turns out Jack Lo ...more
Sean
Fantastic travelogue of the South Pacific in the early 20th century. Especially effective is London's chauvinistic but often sympathetic look at the effects of colonialism and imperial policy on the island populations. I particularly enjoyed his chapter titled "Typee," which laments the passing of the island that Melville celebrates in his novel by the same name. Here particularly one sees the devastating impact of European diseases, sexual exploitation of the native populations and the environm ...more
Scott Harris
Jack London's early 20th century account of his efforts to sail around the world makes for great travel reading. In part, it is London's down to earth honesty that makes it a treat. The challenges with his boats, crews and disease make for a laugh when read from the distance of 100 years and safely ensconced on land. London's throw caution to the wind spirit in pursuit of adventure makes for fun reading. His amateur doctor routine and his encounter with Darling are a blast. Sad that this little ...more
Terry Cornell
Excellent chronicle of Jack London's exploits on his sail of the Pacific aboard the Snark. His descriptive writing makes you feel like part of his crew. My only complaint is that it ended too soon!
Linda
I really loved this book, the trip was amazing, being it was so long ago and
just a unique thing to do at the time. It would be unique now as well. The only
reason I did not give it 5 stars is because Jack London got sick, well, everyone
aboard his boat did, and had to abort the world cruise in Australia so we
missed out on all the interesting observations Jack would have made on the rest
of the trip. I also wish he had commented on his wife's feelings about making the
trip more than he did. Still, lo
...more
Janice
I haven't decided if the experience of the book was made by the narrator, or ruined by him. One one hand, he brought Jack London's humour to life. I can still hear him interjecting "PROUD" every few sentences as Jack successfully taught himself how to navigate. On the other hand, he was almost over the top.

I enjoyed Jack's stories about their experiences as they set about to sail around the world. This book made me wish that I had known Jack London, the man.
Josh
Really interesting read just for the history. Jack London built a yacht in San Francisco 100 years ago. He sailed for Hawaii within a week of the 1906 earthquake. His experience with Hawaiians and travel through the South Pacific is a look back in time. It's hard to believe just how different things are 100 years later. I also enjoyed London's vocabulary. I learned a ton of new words.
Sarah Chapman
Mar 14, 2012 Sarah Chapman is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
This is a pretty cool book so far. Its a bibliography about him self sailing with a couple of his friends to hawaii. But none of them knew how to navigate so Jack London has to teach himself while sailing to hawaii and hopefully making it there. I want to sail!
Tami
Makes me want to go back in time . . .

One of those books that simply couldn't be written in this day and age - an adventure that won't happen ever again. My favorite? Nope. But pretty cool stuff & great for chat at cocktail parties? You bet . . .
Nik
London's use of language is really beautiful. I didn't expect that so much. The book was so contemporary sounding, it really stands up to the test of time. There was humor and adventure. As far as sailing and travl books go this was an excellent read.
Stephen Gagin
This book is a testament to Jack London's marriage. They hired a company to build their boat so they can sail around the world. Just about everything broke on their Pacific crossing and how they coped with it. It's a good read.
Wallyeast
I mostly enjoyed this true tale of Jack London building a sail boat and then taking it across the Pacific. London writes with wit and joy about the trip. It did bog down a couple times, most notably when discussing cannibals.
Brian
Very interesting and humorous South Seas trip.
Douglas Ivan Brown
I really enjoyed this book. This book delivers sailing adventures, tropical islands and diseases, a glimpse back in history, and insight into a great author's motivations.
John Wilson
what an adventure story (true-life) in his style. London makes out it was a fun 2-year trip but it sounded pretty miserable and dangerous to me. so I guess it was fun.
Amandine
3.5 stars. Jack London tells us his boat's trip. Very funny sometimes, less others. This story changes of his novels but I recognize his style.
Stuart
A good ripping true-life yarn, and a great companion piece to the fictional (and highly awesome) South Sea Tales.
Elissa
Another good adventure, with good polynesian cultural notes. I would have loved to see Hawaii 100 years ago!
Nikki Rizzardini
The pictures are fantastic! The entries are tedious, but i would imagine most journals are.
Julie
Jan 04, 2011 Julie is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I like Jack London. So far, this nonfiction is just as well written as his novels.
David


I really enjoyed this book and now want to sample other Jack London nonfiction.
Bob Snook
I really like other jack London books BUT this one was not good. Would not recommend it.
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1240
Jack London was an American novelist, journalist, social-activist and short-story writer whose works deal romantically with elemental struggles for survival. At his peak, he was the highest paid and the most popular of all living writers. Because of early financial difficulties, he was largely self educated past grammar school.

London drew heavily on his life experiences in his writing. He spent ti
...more
More about Jack London...
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“Here am I, a little animal called a man--a bit of vitalized matter, one hundred and sixty-five pounds of meat and blood, nerve, sinew, bones, and brain,--all of it soft and tender, susceptible to hurt, fallible, and frail. I strike a light back-handed blow on the nose of an obstreperous horse, and a bone in my hand is broken. I put my head under the water for five minutes, and I am drowned. I fall twenty feet through the air, and I am smashed. I am a creature of temperature. A few degrees one way, and my fingers and ears and toes blacken and drop off. A few degrees the other way, and my skin blisters and shrivels away from the raw, quivering flesh. A few additional degrees either way, and the life and the light in me go out. A drop of poison injected into my body from a snake, and I cease to move--for ever I cease to move. A splinter of lead from a rifle enters my head, and I am wrapped around in the eternal blackness.

Fallible and frail, a bit of pulsating, jelly-like life--it is all I am. About me are the great natural forces--colossal menaces, Titans of destruction, unsentimental monsters that have less concern for me than I have for the grain of sand I crush under my foot. They have no concern at all for me. They do not know me. They are unconscious, unmerciful, and unmoral. They are the cyclones and tornadoes, lightning flashes and cloud-bursts, tide-rips and tidal waves, undertows and waterspouts, great whirls and sucks and eddies, earthquakes and volcanoes, surfs that thunder on rock-ribbed coasts and seas that leap aboard the largest crafts that float, crushing humans to pulp or licking them off into the sea and to death--and these insensate monsters do not know that tiny sensitive creature, all nerves and weaknesses, whom men call Jack London, and who himself thinks he is all right and quite a superior being.”
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