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Wanderer

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  418 ratings  ·  54 reviews
Since its publication in 1963, Sterling Hayden's autobiography, Wanderer, has been surrounded by controversy. The author was at the peak of his earning power as a movie star when he suddenly quit. He walked out on Hollywood, walked out of a shattered marriage, defied the courts, broke as an outlaw, set sail with his four children in the schooner Wanderer--bound for the Sou ...more
Paperback, 434 pages
Published January 25th 1998 by Sheridan House (first published 1963)
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4.19  · 
Rating details
 ·  418 ratings  ·  54 reviews


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Jim
Jan 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I first read this book in high school and it altered my life for the better in more ways than I can count. No, I never bought a schooner and sailed the South Seas. But I did become a writer, and a self-examining and (I hope) more honest one as a result of reading this book. But beyond that is the magic of a life adventurously lived and splendidly told. I have read Wanderer more times than I can count, and each time I am left in awe at Hayden's brutal and ferocious honesty about himself and at hi ...more
Steve Anderson
Jun 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: research
I enjoyed this read a while back more than I expected, and the fact that I'm adding my thoughts now is probably testament to its odd haunting power. Actor Sterling Hayden, best known (to me) as Gen. Jack Ripper in Kubrick's classic Dr. Strangelove, put all he had into this memoir of his lifelong wanderings aboard various sea vessels he obtained at any and all cost whenever the world became too much for him.

Hayden never felt comfortable in his skin as a hunky actor, and some of the best passages
...more
David Shalleck
May 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is an outstanding memoir. True, honest, up front... perfectly salty and a bit rough but that's part of the allure since it gets into the persona of the author. Better yet, here is a story about Mr. Hayden and Wanderer:

Years ago, I was given a short passage (page 24) from this book. It speaks to not going through life saying/feeling "I wish I could..." and not looking back in life with "could have, would have, should have." It starts with, "Little has been said or written about the ways a m
...more
Karen
Jan 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book....what thought, poetry and romance with life & the sea!! Includes the reality of the real world of 1959.
Kurt Menke
Jul 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This was a special book for me. I discovered Sterling Hayden from film noir. I loved his movies The Asphalt Jungle, The Killing, Dr. Strangelove & the Godfather. He fascinated me in some way. So I discovered this book he authored in the 60's. Ironically I discovered that his acting career was the least important part of his life as far as he was concerned. It was a means of making a good living and that was about it. He hated Hollywood. Instead his true love was the sea and sailing. I have o ...more
BA
Aug 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
As a 20 yr. old I was smitten by Hayden, his book and the sea. I wanted to sail away with him from Sausalito. Later met someone who did. He was fleeing his wife.......
Gabriel Valjan
Oct 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
“Shortly after midnight she came to the end of the road and, with Venus Point Light bearing due south, three miles distant, we hove her to till dawn. And the ship slept under a blanket of stars and so did most of her crew. But not the one in command. He paced alone, alone and lost in memories of the time…” Wanderer, page 247.

Hayden wrote The Wanderer (1963) and then Voyage (1976). Both books read like Conrad and Melville with Hayden living the life of an adventurer before and after Hollywood. He
...more
Brian
Sep 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Always dug this guy's on-screen presence, and then accidentally saw a review on GoodReads of this book. Had NO idea this back story. Fully inspiring, and surprisingly exciting.

Find this book and read it. But don't ask for mine - it is now one of the select books in my permanent collection.
Jordan Gum
Oct 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
fan-damn-tastic. one of the most honest self-examinations ever.
Kirk
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I came to Wanderer through Leuchtturm des Chaos (Pharos of Chaos), the two-hour Hayden "documentary" which came twenty years after the autobiography. By the time of the film, Hayden was a rambling alcoholic who would subject the listener to incoherent tirades about his past, peppered with interrogatory grunts and repeated short phrases. And yet, when he would read from his writings, I had the sense that this was a man who had once been a great writer, or at least a man who wrote better than he s ...more
Hollie Rose
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, best-loved
Money is not what matters.
brendan
Oct 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: dreamers, sailors, human beings
Powerful. Revealing.

Maddening. Oft times disheartening.

And finally, Honest!

This is a portrait of Man(the Dreamer) at his most stripped. I dare you to do better. I dare you to look. I expect you to ridicule.
Beth
Jan 08, 2009 rated it liked it
steer, g-ddamn it, steer
Billy
Jun 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
The pitfall of being a romantic is that's easy to romanticize yourself, not just Nature, Life, etc. But there are worse things.
Greg
Apr 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
a great book. well worth a read for anyone that enjoys a horizon.
Katherine Leppek
Apr 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Best book all time for those dreaming to escape on an around the world sea adventure. True story too.
Graham P
Mar 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
'You're homeward bound, and you'll never come back. And if you do, it won't be the same.'

That quote from sea captain, actor, author and lumbering Yankee, Sterling Hayden, pretty much typifies the gritty melancholia that pervades this voluminous autobiography -- a brave and eloquent piece of self reflection. Hayden is one of those fractured hard-guys who really can't find himself -- not even when he's at peace on the open ocean, one in which he traversed at a very young age out of Boston and Glou
...more
Barry Martin Vass
Aug 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Sterling Hayden was a motion picture actor in Hollywood in the 1940's and '50's, but before that he lived a life as full of adventure and wanderlust as you can imagine. At times Wanderer, his autobiography, reads like a Clive Cussler novel. In 1933, in the depths of the Great Depression, Hayden, then sixteen, ran away from boarding school and signed up as cabin boy for the grand sum of $10 a month on the schooner Puritan sailing from New London, Connecticut, to Newport Beach, California. After t ...more
Sean
Mar 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Sterling Hayden as an actor. Had no idea he was a writer too. He writes with a 19th century love of dense, descriptive sentences, but with a very 1960s attitude. I also had no idea who he was and the life he led. Grew up during the depression, loved ships and the sea since he was a kid, sailed around the world numerous times before he was 22. Fought in WWII with the OSS after making two movies in Hollywood. Everyone said he was so big and strong and handsome he oughtta be in pictures. So ...more
R.M. DAmato
Feb 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
If you like the sea--old-style navigating and sailing--and you are searching for a place in this world, then this book if for you. It is a wonderful journey into the sources of our modern anxieties and angst.Hayden makes a great personal argument of how modern civilization uncivilized humanity--a more modern perspective than Rousseau's noble savage. His book definitely stands on the noble shoulders of Melville's Moby Dick and Dana's Before the Mast.

"But we are brainwashed by our economic system
...more
Rick Muir
Aug 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Sterling Hayden was one of the most intriguing figures to emerge from Hollywood. This is his biography. It is not about "how to sail". If you check Hayden on Wikipedia, you'll get a bit of his life but it was actually much more complex. He followed a poor and hard-working path to making movies and only acted to support his family and love of sailing. He was made full Captain of a ship by age 22 and sailed around the world twice. He was the crazy General in Dr. Strangelove.
The only problem I ha
...more
Dan Heil
Sep 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-on-boats
Sterling Hayden was a soldier, a sailor, an actor, a writer, a wanderer, a cocksman, and a bit of a blowhard. He was a man's man in the Hemingway tradition. His "go fuck yourself" attitude led him on some crazy adventures, but he navigated with his heart, and earnestly sought truth and authenticity in his exploits. However, his quest for the figurative Grail found him unable to shake free of the attachments of modern bullshit, in his case the phony-baloney Hollywood hokum that both pissed him of ...more
Printable Tire
Oct 08, 2009 marked it as to-read
Though I am loathe to do so, I must put this book in the stasis hold until further notice. It's not that's it's bad necessarily, it's just not grabbing my attention enough and thus it's taking me months to finish. It is also due at the library. There are other books I need to read of a more seasonal necessity, other shores to conquer and I cannot be slowed down by dead weight. I think Sterling Hayden would agree with me.

PS: I liked the parts in Woonsocket and Providence involving the queer parti
...more
Jim Lane
Dec 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Beware of anyone who refers to himself in the third person while speaking or writing.
They also tend to hide their pride and sense of self importance behind false modesty.
There were parts of Sterling Hayden's auto-biography that were interesting, but at times I sensed that he was more interested in crafting clever sentences than telling what could have been a fascinating story of his life.
By the way - years ago I read his novel Voyage and give it a higher recommendation than this load of crap.


Rich Martin
Oct 15, 2008 marked it as to-read
Sterling Hayden is best-known for playing the corrupt cop Michael Corleone kills in "Godfather." He was a good actor who was in some fine old noir pics ... but hated acting and Hollywood.
He lived an adventurous life, running guns to Yugoslav partisans during World War II.
This is an account of an ocean voyage when his life was not going well.
I've read a few pages -- the guy can write.
I was going to take this along on a cruise I would've taken last year ... but I had to cancel the trip.
Jenna
Oct 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Great read, as I love true stories. Autobiography of a man who was a fisherman, sailor, Hollywood actor, soldier, sometimes Communist, and dreamer, confident but acutely aware of his own shortfalls. Doesn't offer any answers to the 'big questions', but provides an account of his personal strugle with them.
Bern J
Jan 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Herb Caen's column of 5/26/1986 in the San Francisco Chronicle says it quite elegantly-
Sterling Hayden was a larger than life character.Most people know him as a movie actor but his greatest love was the ocean and large wooden sailboats.
Anyone who had Spike Africa as his First Mate can count me as an admiring fan.
Joann
Of course I love it. I sailed and owned a boat for 30 years (or shall I tell the truth that the boat owned me). Either way it doesn't matter. I miss that boat so much. To sail for any distance is to have a perceived sense of freedom that can't be replicated by anything else. It's priceless.
Joe
Mar 07, 2010 rated it liked it
Sterling Hayden is an exremely interesting character - sailor, adventurer, seaman, actor, patriot, communist, writer, and more. It's hard to know if he was ever really happy, but he certainly led a full life.
Kathy
Sep 25, 2018 rated it liked it
This book started out well and was very interesting and then ended up rambling along until I just wanted to be finished with it. It was much longer than it needed to be. Having said that, the prose in may parts was beautifully written.
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Sterling Hayden was an American actor and author. For most of his career as a leading man, he specialized in westerns and film noir, such as Johnny Guitar, The Asphalt Jungle and The Killing. Later on he became noted as a character actor for such roles as Gen. Jack D. Ripper in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964). He also played the Irish-American policeman, ...more
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“To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise, you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen who play with their boats at sea... "cruising" it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about.

"I've always wanted to sail to the south seas, but I can't afford it." What these men can't afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of "security." And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine - and before we know it our lives are gone.

What does a man need - really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in - and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That's all - in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade.

The years thunder by, The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.

Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life? ”
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“In the worship of security we fling ourselves beneath the wheels of routine-and before we know it our lives are gone.” 15 likes
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