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

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  798 ratings  ·  148 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...more
Paperback, 284 pages
Published June 8th 2007 by Algonquin Books (first published May 17th 2007)
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19th out of 144 books — 229 voters
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G.L. Tysk
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.

Chad Sayban
“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 Edge...more
"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...more
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
Michele Harrod
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
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

Oct 02, 2007 Doug rated it 4 of 5 stars
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.
Nov 20, 2007 Jessi rated it 5 of 5 stars
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.
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
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...more
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...more
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
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...more
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Karen Johnston
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...
Not sure this shipwreck account was the best reading to take along on the ferry to Kodiak with a bad weather forecast. Vivid.
Recommended to me by Eliza and I followed her suggestion with pleasure. A fascinating book.
Fascinating true story of ingenuity and leadership.

Excellent! Really enjoyed this one.
Druett skillfully weaves a tale of the minutiae of castaway life from the survivors' memoirs; it helped that the survivors were eloquent writers. However, this isn't an account of courage and despair, though the survivors all feel courage and despair. History provides Druett with two two nearly simultaneous shipwrecks in the Auckland Islands, and Druett was able to create a narrative to compare the organized and unified party of the survivors of the Grafton shipwreck and the disorganized and fra...more
I saw this on Donna,s list of to-read books. We both have a fondness for books about exploration, oceans, shipwrecks and the like, so I knew she must have picked this for a good reason. Sorry I beat you to this, Donna, but I know you're going to like it.

In 1864, two very different groups of men were shipwrecked on the Auckland Islands, 250 miles south of New Zealand. Marooned at opposite ends of the islands, the two groups never encountered each other. One group was resourceful, mutually support...more
this was a fascinating account of a 5-man crew who was shipwrecked on the Auckland Islands, south of New Zealand, in 1864. amazing that men had to travel so far from home to support themselves and their families, and sometimes they never made it back - or wound up shipwrecked like these poor guys (all were in their mid 20s to early 30s).

they survived for over a year in brutal sub-Antarctic conditions, banding together and using every bit of ingenuity to hunt for food and to construct themselves...more
An amazing true shipwreck story from the sub-antarctic, remote Auckland Islands. I was truly amazed at the resourcefulness of the five Grafton survivors, especially those of Francois Raynal. Given a supply of items from a shipwreck -- including the ship itself -- it's amazing how a group can survive. Also important and critical was the sense of democracy that the group maintained.

This is contrasted with the wreck of the Invercauld, which occurred on the opposite side of the same island. No leade...more
Stephanie Fosnight regester
As non-fiction books go, this one is pretty exciting. It's a fascinating tale of two ship's crews who are shipwrecked in the 1870s at opposite ends of a remote, forbidding island off the coast of New Zealand. One crew not only survives but thrives (as much as possible in such desperate conditions), partly by breaking down the socioeconomic class barriers that initially divide them, while the other disintegrates into chaos, cannibalism and tragedy. What makes the difference?

The book asks this fas...more
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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
More about Joan Druett...
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