Left for Dead: Shipwreck, Treachery, and Survival at the Edge of the World

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9781324093084
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The true story of five castaways abandoned on the Falkland Islands during the War of 1812—a tale of treachery, shipwreck, isolation, and the desperate struggle for survival.

In Left for Dead, Eric Jay Dolin—“one of today’s finest writers about ships and the sea” (American Heritage)—tells the true story of a wild and fateful encounter between an American sealing vessel, a shipwrecked British brig, and a British warship in the Falkland archipelago during the War of 1812.

Fraught with misunderstandings and mistrust, the incident left three British sailors and two Americans, including the captain of the sealer, Charles H. Barnard, abandoned in the barren, windswept, and inhospitable Falklands for a year and a half. With deft narrative skill and unequaled knowledge of the very pith of the seafaring life, Dolin describes in vivid and harrowing detail the increasingly desperate existence of the castaways during their eighteen-month ordeal—an all-too-common fate in the Great Age of Sail.

A tale of intriguing complexity, with surprising twists and turns throughout—involving greed, lying, bullying, a hostile takeover, stellar leadership, ingenuity, severe privation, endurance, banishment, the great value of a dog, the birth of a baby, a perilous thousand-mile open-ocean journey in a seventeen-foot boat, an improbable rescue mission, and legal battles over a dubious and disgraceful wartime prize—Left for Dead shows individuals in wartime under great duress acting both nobly and atrociously, and offers a unique perspective on a pivotal era in American maritime history.

By Eric Jay Dolin, published by W.W. Norton, 320 pages, hardcover.