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Wreck of the Medusa: The Tragic Story of the Death Raft
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Wreck of the Medusa: The Tragic Story of the Death Raft

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  96 ratings  ·  9 reviews
In July, 1816, a French frigate ran aground on a sandbar forty miles off the coast of Africa. Forced to abandon ship, 150 men and women embarked on an overloaded makeshift raft. After twelve days of riots, mutiny, murder, and, ultimately, cannibalism, only fifteen were alive.
Published by Signet (first published January 1st 1975)
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Originally published in 1974, this is a harrowing account of the grounding of the frigate Medusa off the coast of Africa and the abandonment of the ship by its 400 passengers and crew in seven boats and a poorly-built raft. McKee tells the story in a straightforward way, and he deftly moves the reader from boat to boat as his narrative shifts locations.

The book is a page-turner up until the last few chapters. The plight of the raft is gut-wrenching, and the actions of those who should have been
In July of 1816, a year after the final downfall of Napoleon, a convoy of four French ships were to sail south for a settlement on the African coast that was in the process of being turned over by the English to the French. They were to stay together for safety reasons, even though the ships had different speed capabilities. Certain parts of the African coast was (and still is) largely uncharted, so ships would sail south well away from the coast to avoid shallows and reefs. But a combination of ...more
I was a little worried that a book devoted to documenting and analyzing a horrific shipwreck off the coast of the SAhara desert would be very explicit and repulsive, but it was a very good read that left the repugnant details a bit off the page and also delved unexpectedly into the aftermath and a short history the famous painting by Théodore Géricault that captured the scene for all times. McKee also compared modern equivalents in search of the answer to his question of whether the Medusa Raft ...more
The first two thirds of this book are very good. The story of what happened to the Medusa was fascinating. The last third.... not so good. The author blathers on and on...about an artist who painted the wreck, about other events that were similar. It was almost as if the publisher demanded so many words and he was just trying to meet his quota.
Seemed like there were just too many things going on at the same time and not put together all that well, which made the book less enjoyable than I had hoped. There is a lot compeling here---shipwreck, post-revolutionary and Post-Napoleon adjustments, colonialism, art, scandal, etc., but it just wasn't well told.
A groundbreaking tale of cannibalism and it's non-fiction. I love the history and the psychology. It inspired me to look for the painting in the Louvre called the Raft of the Medusa. Fascinating.
Amazing example of what happens in a survival situation without leadership. And how wrong this can go when people drink wine instead of water.
Jun 27, 2007 Joseph added it
Good history of a terrible event. Well-told and involving, though always historically accurate.
A horrific true tale that changed the world of art forever.
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