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The Last Grain Race
Eric Newby
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The Last Grain Race

4.24  ·  Rating Details  ·  376 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
There was a time not long past when the world's oceanic cargo moved in beautiful wind-driven sailing ships. They were successors to millenia of less noble craft, but at their zenith, in the 19th century, they dominated the seas.

Eric Newby had the good fortune to sail on one of these clippers. Shortly before WW II, he signed aboard as deckhand on a ship in the grain trade,

Mass Market Paperback
Published October 12th 1971 by Random House Publishing Group (first published 1956)
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Mike Robbins
May 21, 2016 Mike Robbins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel, memoirs
In 1938 Eric Newby was a bored 18-year-old working in a London advertising agency. When it lost an account, many of his colleagues were sacked. To his disgust, he wasn’t. Apparently he was not important enough to sack. So he left anyway and signed on as an apprentice on a windjammer for a round-the-world voyage. The Last Grain Race is the story of that voyage. Published nearly 20 years later, it was the first book from one of the best-loved of British travel writers.

The windjammer era was brief
Dec 07, 2012 Melanie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uncatagorized
My dad read this book every fall as he sat tending a grain dryer full of corn. He wore that paperback out. I remembered seeing the book lying in the small heated office as mom and I would bring him his supper as she always did when he was on "duty" hours into the night. Eventually we had to get him another copy and he read that two more times even though his days of grain drying were over. It is so inscribed on the front page of the book in his own hand.
I ran across the book in going through th
Apr 26, 2016 Al rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"From aloft came the great roaring sound, that I heard now for the first time and will perhaps never hear again, of strong winds in the rigging of a big ship."

This was a great story, written very well and what made it even more riveting is that it's a true story. Eric Newby signed on as an apprentice seaman on the Finnish grain ship Moshulu in the fall of 1938. What's the big deal? The Moshulu was the largest sail-powered vessel in the world, at that time. It was a steel-hulled, ship-rigged gra
Apr 23, 2012 Marty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was ready to drive from Seattle to San Francisco when I stopped at the library for some road music and a book on tape. This particular day, I found a jewel by one of the greats, Eric Newby's "The Last Grain Race". Eric Newby has done so much, and has been so many places that it boggles the mind. This book chronicles the beginning of his life as a true adventurer, when on the eve of WWII, he shipped out as a complete novice seaman on one of the largest sailing vessels ever built, bound for Aust ...more
Matt Cartney
Jul 04, 2013 Matt Cartney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'll lay my cards on the table. I love Eric Newby. So much so that I named one of the characters in my 'Danny Lansing' books after him. The Last Grain Race is an enormously entertaining book about an extraordinary adventure at the end of the era of sail. Newby is an extremely self-effacing and likeable narrator and the book is a joy from start to finish. Who can't like a chap who turns up at the quayside for his first voyage on a brutally tough sailing ship - with his belongings packed in Loius ...more
Oct 24, 2015 Kenny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Where it all got started for Eric Newby one of the best travel writers. The story of how he got into travelling. Being wonderfully put out when he was told he was not important or expensive enough to sack when his firm hit difficulties and had a round of mass redundancies, Newby secured a position on a sailing ship, in the 1938 round the world grain race. The only birt on a mostly Scandinavian ship, newsbys diaries and anecdotes are an entertaining recollection of the rough an poor life many sai ...more
Jim Puskas
Aug 18, 2015 Jim Puskas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
This is arguably the best of Eric Newby's numerous travel books, all of which are excellent. Rich in detail, unique in setting, intriguing characters met along the way. In addition to spinning a good yarn about a hard voyage and life at sea under sail, Newby enlivens his account with self-deprecating humour.
Chris Cangiano
In 1938, an eighteen year old quits his job at a London advertising firm and signs on as an apprentice seaman with one of the last commercial sailing fleets for a trip from Ireland to Australia and back again. The boy was Eric Newby, one of the last century's greatest travel writers, and this is his account of that trip (which was to be the last such grain-hauling endeavor by sailing vessels due to the outbreak of the Second World War). Newby is a very entertaining writer and this is an entertai ...more
ron swegman
Feb 06, 2010 ron swegman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
The Last Grain Race by Eric Newby is the first book I read specifically after having signed up to goodreads. This one had been given to me by a friend who also happens to be an avid fly fisher and amateur sailor. The book sat on my front shelf for quite a while and percolated there until I was inspired to pick it up in December 2009.

I finished the book on February 6th 2010. The reason I took so long to complete Newby's 285-page tale is simple; I did not want the adventure to end!

Newby takes the
Nov 23, 2010 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
All aboard me hearties. Talk about a bygone era, it amazed me that the sailing of large, wind powered clippers from England to Australia and back was still a commercial viability in the year before the Second World War broke out. Newby managed to get a job on one as an adolescent trying to find his place in life, and this is the story of it. Sometimes marred by ship-talk that would be and was totally incomprehensible to a land-lubber like me, the tale was worth telling for the people and situati ...more
Jason Burger
Jan 11, 2015 Jason Burger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read from this author before and enjoy his prose, humor and technical details. Having never sailed on a ship a lot of the terms Mariners use are foreign to me but thankfully the author provides chart and explainations for the ignorant. Once past the technical terms used the book flows nicely and as usual is was a great read. Makes we me want to board a four masted barque and sail the seas...maybe I'll just build a model ship and imagine.
Feb 06, 2016 Marc rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an incredible book - a great story of seamanship, riding the last of the sail powered ships in 1939, right before WWII. It's a great story, lots of funny moments, wonderful scenes... the only problem with it is that you can put it down VERY easily. It's episodic, and even when you're in the middle of a story, you don't worry about getting back to it.

So if it has a fault, it's that it's interesting, but not gripping.
Dec 28, 2014 Yarahashimoto rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read this three times and still enjoy as much as the first time. The story is one I can relate to, sympathise with, and envy. If you love the sea and sailing ships, it is an absolute must. I think I will start it again now.
Absolutely brilliant. A wonderful read, especially for those in the nautical frame of mind. Much like Two Years Before the Mast but in the 20th century, which illustrates how not much has changed between the early 19th and 20th as far as sailing ships, and how so much has changed since then.
Brian Murphy
Nov 18, 2014 Brian Murphy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed
Loved reading about life and risks on a sailing ship in the Southern Ocean.
Living in South Australia, his descriptions of Port Lincoln and Port Victoria are very informative.
David Cozens
Aug 07, 2015 David Cozens rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The life of an apprentice seaman on the four masted barque Moshulu in the last grain race in 1939.
Christopher Smith
Jan 20, 2016 Christopher Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic insight into life on a Clipper ship in 1938. Compelling reading.
David Newhall
Sep 21, 2015 David Newhall rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great armchair sea-faring. No one writes better travel than Newby.
Feb 10, 2015 Roddy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are better books in this genre: "Two years before the mast" and "The way of a ship" are particularly good. I found Newby's writing style too dry, his account pretty uneventful and I didn't come away feeling that I knew him at all (although I would have to say the same about Dana in "Before the mast").
Oct 31, 2014 Caroline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An absolute masterpiece, I can't believe it's out of print!
Fazackerly Toast
makes you mourn the passing of the great sailing ships. time for another dose of Patrick o'Brien I think!
Nov 04, 2013 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
By now, over 50 years since it came out, everything has been said about this book. Newby writes with humour, a good eye for detail, and total engagement with his subject. What more can you ask from a writer? The only thing that interrupted the easy flow for me was the occasional use of Finnish which I felt added nothing since I skipped over the unpronounceable words. If you want to get an idea of what daily life was like aboard an old commercial sailing ship then this is as good a place to begin ...more
Apr 27, 2009 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was extraordinarily dubious going into this book. I picked it up after a hearty recommendation from a friend -- a friend who also heartily recommended "Das boot." Yeah.

This book is NOTHING like "Das boot!" It's funny! Not just funny -- *hilarious*. The author's characterization and descriptions of his nautical comrades is glorious! I don't know crap about boats or rigging or sails or starboard or any of that stuff, but I *like* this memoir! Two enthusiastic thumbs up.
Sep 15, 2012 Cathie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I did not expect to enjoy this book, but I really did! Apart from skimming over the technical details of rigging a sail boat, I loved Erics descriptions of life at sea (hard), the people he lived and worked with (tough), and the fascinating places the passed and landed at, as well as the dangers faced. I will be looking out for more of his books.
Pete Kelly
Jul 30, 2008 Pete Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of a young man's voyage on the last of the sailing ships which delivered grain from Australia to the UK. These ships were still sailing in the 1930s. Fantastic story of courage and adventure. Newby is one of the UK's great travel writers. A book to get lost in.
Dean Brodhag
Jan 12, 2009 Dean Brodhag rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are: 1) a sailboat sailor and 2) fascinated with large commercial sailing ships you will enjoy this book. It is definitely a great account of the dangers of a time of "wooden ships and iron men". Anxious to read more by Newby, expecially a bike trip around Ireland.
Jun 30, 2013 Cnochur rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very technical, often needlessly so. Don't let that stop you. When this was over, I was almost as sad as the author (a legendary badass if ever there was) for the end of a classic real life adventure. Next time I eat on the Moshulu it'll be with a side of awe.
Bob Finlay
Dec 26, 2012 Bob Finlay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The dog's knackers this book. Well worth a read for anyone interested in ships or the sea. Amazing to think that this was in 1938, those lads aboard wouldn't have been much different to their forebears 200 years before.
Aug 05, 2010 Alice rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Literally LOL funny! I can' believe it's taken me so long to get to Eric Newby. He's fantastic! Can't wait to read more of his. Probably my favourit bit was about Mr Mountstewart and the 'firework'.
Jul 13, 2010 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great atmosphere, Newby's character sketches and overall use of words are amazing. Having spent time at sea I can confirm the authenticity of his descriptions.
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George Eric Newby CBE MC (December 6, 1919 – October 20, 2006[1]) was an English author of travel literature.

Newby was born and grew up near Hammersmith Bridge, London, and was educated at St Paul's School. His father was a partner in a firm of wholesale dressmakers but he also harboured dreams of escape, running away to sea as a child before being captured at Millwall. Owing to his father's frequ
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