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The Raft

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  403 ratings  ·  68 reviews
A gripping account of three naval airmen adrift in the Pacific for 34 days.
Paperback, 213 pages
Published March 1st 1992 by US Naval Institute Press (first published 1942)
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4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  403 ratings  ·  68 reviews

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Jason Koivu
Three naval airmen from a downed plane spend over a month in an open raft upon the South Pacific Seas with no food, water or cover from the sun and live to tell the tale. Wow. I need to stop bitching when I get a little sunburn or miss lunch.

This memoir was put together by Robert Trumbull in 1942 soon after Harold Dixon, Gene Aldrich, and Tony Pastula underwent their trying ordeal. It's told from Dixon's perspective. He was the pilot and senior to the other two. He gives his opinions relatively
Dec 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
The perfect book to read while solidifying in subzero weather is The Raft by Robert Trumbull. And one look at the cover will suggest that another bite of that fat laden steak is well-worthwhile.

Trumbull retells the story of 3 aviators whose plane went down in the Pacific. They had a rubber raft and little else because the plane sank so quickly. They were adrift for 34 days and traveled over 1,000 miles. The raft was about four by eight feet. It was so small that no one could stretch out. "Imagi
Jun 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book as I was cleaning out a bookcase in my parents' home. Mom belonged to the Book-of-the-Month Club during the WW II years, and this 1942 copy still has the review and synopsis by the Club News inside. It is the true story of three US navy-men who took off from a carrier on a bombing mission, ran out of gas, and had to ditch in the ocean somewhere in the South Seas. They, unfortunately, end up in a small rubber raft with no food or water and little else, floundering and supportin ...more
Oct 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every once and a while one finds things that prove to be a real treasure. I rarely browse this one used book store close by with the hopes of a worthwhile find. This place is a hodgepodge of battered paper backs strewn on overstuffed shelves and collapsing piles, but I have by luck found several unforgettable reads in the past. This one kind of stood out, it was old and yellowed with that musty dry smell of old newspapers, but in pristine condition. In fact I doubt it had ever been read. The pri ...more
Khairul Azlan
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A true story about three men staying alive in a small sized raft. After the plane carrying them crashed at the pacific ocean. It is surprising to know how much human can withstand pain and hardship just to stay alive.
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction-read
The true story of 3 Navy men who survive 34 days in the Pacific with no food.
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
After seeing the movie (Against the Sun) based on this story, I was intrigued and decided to track down the real story. I thought, surely the movie embellished most of the scenes in the film - surely most of it was fictionalized. It's an excellent movie, by the way - I highly recommend it. Come to find out, the movie was pretty accurate (with the exception of a few things).

Survival/endurance and WWII stories are my favorites, and this one is an absolutely incredible story. I really enjoyed the s
Feb 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first I wanted to compare this book to Unbroken, and it is similar. This book was written by the person that experienced the raft, not by a professional author so the style is pretty straightforward, nothing fancy.
They suffered immensely. They went for days without food or fresh water, but all three men survived. What they suffered could have made them break down, want to harm one another, or simply give up, but they fought to stay alive and positive.
Mickey Tompkins
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic true story about survival, I read this book a few years ago, and even got to see the real lifeboat in person at the National Museum of Naval Aviationin Pensacola, Fl while on vacation.

They made a movie about it "Against The Sun" never seen that though. Give the story a chance, it's one you will never forget.
Dec 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great, quick read... enjoyed the narration and pace
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An engaging true story of survival adrift on the open sea written in the blunt style of mid-twentieth century pulp fiction. Spoiler alert: around day twelve, bowel movements are discussed.
Reporter Robert Trumbull's book "The Raft" tells the story of Harold Dixon, Tony Pastula and George Aldrich. The trio's plane crashed in the ocean during World War II and they floated in a rubber raft for 35 days with a knife, rusting pistol and a couple of life jackets along side them. Their survival is nothing short of a miracle.

Told with sparse, short sentences, the book is not a literary masterpiece. However, the story is very readable and engrossing. There are loads of better written surviv
Aug 20, 2013 rated it liked it
I didn't realize this was a re-release of a nonfiction book from the early 1940s when I picked it up at the library. If i had known, I might have missed out on learning about this 70 years ago headline catching news story. What an amazing story of survival!

Wiki: Three downed U.S. Navy fliers from the USS Enterprise landed on Pukapuka in February 1942.[5] Harold Dixon, Gene Aldrich, and Tony Pastula survived 34 days on the open ocean in a tiny 4 by 8 foot (1.2 by 2.4 m) raft, beginning their odys
Dec 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
I saw this book mentioned while viewing the actual raft at the NAS museum in Pensacola, FL. It was as fascinating as I had expected, and was different enough from Unbroken, which i also read recently, to still keep my attention. The only reason it lost a star is that the author gives away future facts in several places. For instance, at one point he states, "that was the last food we would have." This changes the intensity of the remaining accounts of fishing and trying to catch birds, if you kn ...more
Apr 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another truly amazing survival story (yes, I've been on a bit of a survival kick lately). A pilot and his two crew members crashed in the Pacific Ocean during WW II. The only thing they managed to get from the plane before it sank, was a 4 X 8' raft. They had no food, water, equipment, etc. and yet they survived for 34 days. It was fascinating to see their resourcefulness in getting food, water, navigation, etc. They eventually made it to an island where the natives helped them to regain their s ...more
Brian (Butters)
Oct 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like Adventure
After reading The Raft, By Robert Trumbull, I leaned that this is a non-fiction book, told in first person point of view about three navy flyers named Gene Aldrich, Tony Pastula and Dixon, the leader with 24 years of navial exprience. Dixon is the piolot of a plane that crashes into the Pacific Ocean. The main storyline entails how Gene, Tony and Dixon survived 34 torching days with the scholdering heat and the shivering cold of night, on a 6 foot by 10 foot piercing yellow raft as bright as the ...more
Dan Walker
Aug 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adventure, history
Interesting story with a lot of parallels to another raft story, "Unbroken." But I found it an interesting read. The ingenuity and sailing skills of men who have nothing to work with, the challenges of surviving in the open ocean, and how the men dealt with the psychological stress, made it fascinating. In the end they were incredibly fortunate or else God had a plan. The other thought that haunts me is how many other US airmen and sailors perished in the Pacific because they were, in the end, e ...more
May 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Navy philes
I have a passion for true stories of people who were lost at sea and survived. This one is about 3 navy aviators who survived 34 days in a small raft in early 1942. They got lost while on a routine mission and ditched in the ocean. They had little in the way of food and water. They were burned by the hot tropical sun every day. They caught and ate fish, coconuts that floated by in the water, a shark(!) and a bird. They drank animal blood and also learned to wring rainwater out of their clothes f ...more
Bruce Cline
Sep 25, 2018 rated it liked it
The Raft, by Robert Trumbull (pp 128), first Printed in 1942. This is the story of three naval aviators that crash landed in the Pacific during a reconnaissance patrol. They spent 34 days with little food and even less water drifting until they landed on an isolated small island and were nursed back to health by native families living there. Exact locations were withheld because of wartime considerations. Not great writing, but might be of interest to those who enjoy survival stories. This story ...more
Nov 19, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 'Life of Pi' lovers
I read this book off my parent's bookshelf when I was 12. It was the first 'adult' non-fiction book I really read and it was gripping. I'll never forget how intense the experience was and how I totally related with those guys on the raft. I'll never forget it, because it took my love of reading to a whole 'new level'. (How cliche! sorrry, but it did.) When I read "Life of Pi" years later, I remembered this book.
Feb 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Re-read this recently out loud to the kids on an RV vacation. I really enjoy this book. I love books from the WW2 era. The book details the journey of three US soldiers whose plane goes down in the South Pacific. They are left alone in the ocean with only a very small life raft, a few very basic items. The story details their fight to survive over multiple weeks adrift at sea through ingenuity and an unwillingness to give up.
Mark "Lefty" Holencik
Dec 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
A story of survival and ingenuity that kept these 3 men sane through 34 days adrift at sea. Their story shows how your mental and emotional condition is the most important thing that you bring to any situation.

They did things that I would have a hard time doing having just got up from a good nights sleep and the breakfast table.
Any Length
This is a very inspiring story about the endurance of three men who decided not to let shipwreck get them down. I was very impressed by their stamina and their sheer will and discipline to recover from every setback nature could throw at them. I think a lot of people would benefit from reading this book.
May 31, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Definitely a great illustration of perseverance and ingenuity. a lot of take home points and lessons learned for any interested in water survival and SERE. Lastly, I've read as many books that come my way concerning survival and this story maintains the consistent theme of believing in a higher power and the power of prayer gives one strength.
Sep 05, 2009 rated it it was ok
A typical survival book (I love survival books) - fascinating to read, but not particularly good literature, but told in a very straightforward manner. The story is of three navy airmen who survive in the Pacific for 34 days with essentially no supplies or food or water. Their survival and the fact they finally find land is hard to imagine.
Tony Taylor
Jan 03, 2010 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: young people
This is the true story of three Navy airmen whose plane crashed into the Pacific during WWII, and who were adrift in a very small raft for 34 days over 750 miles of ocean with little food or water.

I first read this book as a very young teenager... it has always stayed with me a a tale of survival and determination.
Feb 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Based upon the first person account of three servicemen whose plane went down in the Pacific during WWII. They managed to get out the rubber raft before their plane sank, taking all supplies with it. They survived on the not-so-calm waters of the Pacific for 34 days, near death, before they land on an inhabited atoll in the lonely Pacific.
Jun 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book and true story occurred and was written in 1942. 3 guys take off from an airplane carrier and have to ditch their airplane. It's their amazing story of survival in a rubber raft. Good book that anyone in the family would enjoy. I'm checking out the book and giving it to my boys to read. I listened to the book on tape.
Mar 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Originally released in 1942 and again in 1992. A easy read of three airman's survival in a rubber raft for thirty four days in the South Pacific. A story of personal survival, tools they used and successful outcome. The epilogue completes these three men's life story. Told in the first person of pilot Dixon. A good read.
Paul Andrus
Jul 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read this in high school and learned some things from Chief Dixon. I took those lessons into adulthood and used a few in Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Of course, I did not float adrift in a raft in the Iraqi desert. Still, Dixon's humble story of patience, faith, and perseverance inspired me almost 30 years after I read it.
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“Gene was leaning intently over the side, his knife held ready, dagger fashion. Finally, a shark swam bravely up to him. The knife flashed out and down, and there was a sound like a punch. Gene turned pale. “I—I think I hit the boat,” he said. He held his hand in the water where he had struck. There was a quick, convulsive thrash and Gene’s arm was yanked like a line. “Wait! I got him,” he yelled. He had been fortunate enough to strike the shark in the gill. That, we learned later, was the only spot vulnerable to the little knife. Quickly, but with care, Gene hauled the shark into the boat, using the knife like a hook. Tony again was dozing in the bottom of the boat. The shark landed right on top of him. I haven’t had the experience yet of having a live shark, wet and bleeding, thump me in the ribs while I was half asleep. It nearly scared the wits out of Tony. The yelp of surprise was hardly out of Tony’s mouth, though, when he grasped the whole situation. Like a wrestler, Tony flipped over and slammed all his weight on the struggling sea beast. He concentrated every ounce of his energy on holding down the sinewy, slippery thing.” 1 likes
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