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

3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,917 Ratings  ·  224 Reviews
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.

In 1864 Captain Thomas Musgrave and his crew of four aboard the schooner Grafton wreck on the southern end of th
Hardcover, First Edition, 284 pages
Published 2007 by Algonquin Books
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G.L. Tysk
Jul 10, 2014 G.L. Tysk rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I checked this book out from the library today, started reading it after dinner, and could not put it down or go to bed until I finished it! I read a fair number of sailing non-fiction books and am no stranger to accounts of shipwrecks, but Druett's talented writing and immediate ability to turn the journals of the shipwrecked sailors into an ongoing account of real human beings enthralled me. I felt like I was reading a novel, all the more exciting because everything that happened was true.

Oct 11, 2010 Franz rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, history, 2010
"Below the 40th latitude there is no law; below the 50th no God; below the 60th no common sense and below the 70th no intelligence whatsoever."

Traveling in the subantarctic is fraught with danger. The ocean is almost uninterrupted by land, which allows storms form quickly, circle the globe, and grow (with little land to slow them down). This climate, along with an unreliable food supply and harsh geography, makes survival difficult, and survival from shipwreck hopeless. Islands of the Lost desc
Chad Sayban
May 05, 2015 Chad Sayban rated it it was amazing
“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.”

So begins Joan Druett’s book, Island of the Lost – Shipwrecked at the Edg
Nov 20, 2007 Jessi rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone who loves survival stories
I loved this book. One of the most well written true shipwreck stories I've ever read. Facinating and inspiring.
Michele Harrod
Mar 17, 2014 Michele Harrod rated it it was amazing
This book was recommended to me, and I can honestly say, it was utterly gripping. Based on the true story of 5 sailors who were shipwrecked on the Auckland Islands in 1864. Approximately 235 miles south of New Zealand - a place truly desolate, cold and cruel. I am not sure what amazed me the most - their own incredible ability to break down traditional 'class' structures and retain total care and loyalty to each other, alongside their incredible ingenuity that allowed them to survive for well ov ...more
Mar 02, 2010 Leigh-ann rated it really liked it
Incredible, amazing account of how a group of shipwrecked sailors managed to survive almost two years on a desolate island southeast (I believe) of New Zealand in the mid-1800s. They dealt with terrible winds, biting bugs that had evolved to survive in both summer and subzero winter, and a diet that consisted of seal, seal, and more seal. Despite their circumstances, they managed to salvage parts of their original ship and use them to build an airtight house with a fireplace/chimney, a forge for ...more
Bookmarks Magazine

The author of several works on nautical history and a maritime mystery series, Joan Druett is a knowledgeable, entertaining tour guide through the seafaring life of the 19th century and the hardships of "castaway life" (New York Times Book Review). Druett illustrates how each group coped with the hostile conditions and why their respective strategies (or lack thereof) succeeded or failed by allowing the details of each story to drive the narrative. Some critics found those details too graphic

Jan 04, 2014 Jan rated it it was amazing
This is the true account of two ships, in 1864, shipwrecked on Auckland Island, near Antarctica. The survivors made it to shore four months and only 20 miles apart and never knew the others were there. The five men who had been aboard the Grafton, survived their miserable twenty month ordeal by living democratically, instead of maintaining shipboard rank. They were resourceful and made the best of their situation. Days were spent building a shelter and primarily hunting sea lions for food. At ni ...more
Mar 11, 2012 Laura rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nf-history
An absolute page-turner. Two crews shipwreck on the same desolate island four months and 20 miles apart. The stories of their survival (or lack thereof) are compelling.

Druett first introduces the five-member crew of the Grafton. Through unity of purpose, specialized know-how, and hard work they are able to eke out a bearable existance. It’s amazing to witness the extent to which they are able to overcome their surroundings. They build a sturdy shelter complete with mortared fireplace, they perf
Oct 02, 2007 Doug rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in stories of survival under harsh conditions
Another account of shipwreck surviors with a twist: two groups marooned on opposite ends of a remote island but unaware that the other was there. One group survives quiet well, the other loses most of their party before being rescued.

The ingenuity showed by the smaller group is amazing.
Leona Heraty
Jan 06, 2015 Leona Heraty rated it it was amazing
I couldn't put it down! Joan Druett does an excellent job of weaving the tales of two shipwrecks on the remote Auckland Islands in the 19th Century. I'm looking forward to reading more of her wonderful books on maritime history! Keep up the great work, Joan! :-)
Aug 21, 2007 Ken added it
Remarkable. A story of the vital importance of leadership, as well as a great tale of survival.

The author has a remarkable talent for converting historical accounts, journals, and biographies into a narrative.
Nathaniel Turner
Jul 07, 2015 Nathaniel Turner rated it it was amazing
I did not read this book quickly, but not from lack of interest and excitement on its part. (I was distracted by other readings, writings, and the smallest inhabitant of my house learning to walk, which furnished him with many escape plans that necessitated thwarting.) Honestly, Druett's work here is eminently readable and intriguing, especially for anyone interested in maritime history and survival stories.

There were a lot of things to like about this book. Human ingenuity, democracy, and the t
Karen Johnston
Sep 16, 2007 Karen Johnston rated it it was amazing
I love survival stories and this one is truly amazing. Two groups shipwrecked on the same island at the same time with very different results. A fast amazing read...
Feb 15, 2013 C rated it really liked it
Unexpectedly good.

This is a fairly easy/quick read that doesn't get too bogged down in laborious detail, but fleshes history out nicely. She does a great job of creating a sense of being at sea and the gloom of the wintery, rainy Auckland Island.

The story of Musgrave and his group of castaways is very much "Robinson Crusoe." It became unintentionally comical as it went on and the Frenchman Raynal created more and more necessities. Need a cabin? I can design that! Got soap? I'll make that! Leathe
Joan Druett hit upon a gold mine of material for her book "Island of the Lost: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World." Two different boats shipwrecked on tiny, inhospitable Auckland Island, miles off the coast of New Zealand. Completely unknown to each other, the two crews really illustrate the difference between men who are driven to survive and men who have given up. One crew worked together (and admittedly had a gun that made a big difference for its food supply) while the other crew fell apar ...more
Todd Stockslager
Jun 08, 2015 Todd Stockslager rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
I was reminded of the Jimmy Buffett song about a party "at the end of the world" on the southern tip of South America. Wrong continent, wrong hemisphere, but these shipwrecked parties certainly must have felt they were indeed at the end of the world.

This is a shipwreck account of not just one, but a pair of shipwrecked crews on the Auckland Islands south of New Zealand in 1864-1865. Amazingly, with the crews separated by 20 miles of rugged mountains, seaside cliffs and impenetrable inlets, the
Oct 14, 2014 Patricia rated it liked it
Surviving a shipwreck...not impossible, you might think if you've grounded on an island, but after reading this fascinating account of two different shipwrecks in the same 'multitude of islets' (the remote Auckland Islands) within miles and months of one another makes you realise it's more than just finding shelter, water and food. One group builds a group shelter (Epigwaitt), pools their resources and skills and survives intact; the other, the crew from the Scottish square-rigger Invercauld doe ...more
Feb 09, 2014 Randy rated it really liked it
I’m drawn to books about the sea because a book is about as close as I want to get to a boat on rough water. And, survival stories are a favorite genre. You can get a heavy dose of both in Joan Druett’s Island of the Lost, a story of two shipwrecks on the rugged, unfriendly Auckland Islands in the mid-nineteenth century. One shipwrecked crew is led by a captain with real leadership ability and they survive. The second crew is poorly led and most of the men die.

Thomas Musgrave and the three crew
Apr 17, 2016 skein rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 4-star, 2016
Very, very satisfying; I do love a good disaster nonfiction! And this is such a bizarre story! Five men are shipwrecked on a forbidding, frozen lump of land (the ship being outfitted with shoddy equipment by landlubbing jerks); they surv-thrive through the sort of gumption that one associates with redheaded orphans.

Four months later there comes another shipwreck to the island -- although the terrain is frustrating enough, and the habitations separated enough that the groups never meet (!) even w
Oct 03, 2010 Micah rated it it was amazing
A fantastic book and an excellent read. Druett commands the historical details of this event and related subatlantic seafaring and shipping in general. Truely an excellent account of these amazing events. I realize I have read a great many 'survival' books which always seem to center around mountains or seas or both; areas where I spend a great deal of my personal time - so no wonder I like to read about them. This one is probably the best, resting right next to Krakauer's Into Thin Air.
Daniel Brown
May 06, 2014 Daniel Brown rated it it was amazing
What a story. It was like real-life Robinson Crusoe. The group of five from the first ship were pretty amazing. Their teamwork and sharing of jobs and responsibilities showed great teamwork and intelligence. It's great that there were two who kept the records/journal of everything that took place. The second ship was a disaster. The Captain and his top officer did not even deserve to live, relying on the innovative seaman who carried their lazy butts. That is what made me mad while reading this ...more
Dec 14, 2014 Torgo rated it really liked it
An incredible read. If it wasn't true, it would make unbelievable fiction. In the 1800's two completely unrelated ships wreck on the opposite sides of a very remote nigh-antarctic island, south of New Zealand. Although the two parties never cross paths, their stories make an intriguing juxtaposition, highlighting the best and the worst of humanity. The island is barren, freezing cold and buffeted by year-round storms, with little in the way of food or resources. But with great leadership, camara ...more
Dec 10, 2007 Andrea rated it really liked it
The tale of two boats shipwrecked at the opposite ends of the same island in the same year who meet with drastically different consequences, this is about as close as you can get to an independent psychological experiment. Druett is a masterful storyteller here, interweaving numerous personal accounts into a cohesive - and gripping - narrative.
MaryLee Young
Jan 06, 2008 MaryLee Young rated it it was amazing
This is an incredible true story of two ships that have wrecks on Auckland Island in 1864 - a place of year-round freezing rain and howling winds - two separate shipwrecks, unknown to each other, at opposite ends of the island. It is the courageous story of survival for one of these two - and a story of human nature at it's worst for the other.
May 05, 2009 Joe rated it it was amazing
Awesome book chronicling two shipwrecks in the Sub-Antartic. One party works together with no deaths, while the other party is totally disorganized leading to the deaths of several crewman. The only slight problem was with some of the nautical terms. I think some diagrams describing the ship would be helpful.
Jan 05, 2016 Chris rated it really liked it
I have always loved shipwreck stories, and this was a really interesting one. Usually, you picture them taking place on tropical isles, but these guys were on a group of islands well south of the tropics, and had to deal with winter weather, in addition to trying to feed themselves, take care of their health, and figure out a way off the island. They were lucky that they had a couple of incredibly savvy crew members, who could build them a solid hut, construct warm clothes for them and figure ou ...more
Feb 19, 2015 Jon rated it really liked it
I just finished reading "Island of the Lost; Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World". Overall, the book was excellent. I think the authors research was impeccable and the narrative outstanding. I would definitely recommend this book to others.

Set in the 1860s, this book primarily tells the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton who sets out to cross the continent of Antarctica for the first time.
While Shackleton's attempt is a failure, his story is a compelling drama of survival in the worst conditions im
Aug 17, 2015 Molly rated it really liked it
I liked this material. Shipwrecked sailors on two separate islands in the sub-Arctic struggling to survive, one group miraculously survives the other goes feral. I loved reading about these brave and callow sailors, though it must be said that much less is known about the ones that went crazy and ate each other, as they died rather quickly and hadn't the time or later inclination to write much about their awful experiences. It is amazing how resourceful the Frenchmen Raynal was, and I was left t ...more
Nov 27, 2007 Terye rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. A fascinating tale of survival. Two different ships shipwrecked at this island within 6 or 7 months, on two different parts of the island and two completely different experiences. Very well researched, very enjoyable read.
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Back in the year 1984, on the picture-poster tropical island of Rarotonga, I literally fell into whaling history when I tumbled into a grave. A great tree had been felled by a recent hurricane, exposing a gravestone that had been hidden for more than one and a half centuries. It was the memorial to a young whaling wife, who had sailed with her husband on the New Bedford ship Harrison in the year 1 ...more
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