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on 8 March 2008
Eric Newby is a renowned travel writer, and this is one of his first and best books. It tells of how in 1938 he signed on as an apprentice deck hand on a large steel square rigger engaged in the Australia - Europe grain trade. It is a fascinating, moving, exciting, funny account of the round trip with all its highs and lows, written with such skill, and passion I just couldn't put it down. You really don't have to be a sailor to enjoy this book, but if you are it's even better. A collector's item.
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on 13 February 2000
This book and 'Learning the ropes' mean so much to me. As you will notice I am no writer or scholar. I read 'A Travellers Life' when I picked up on the story of the 'Last Grain Race'. I am no reader either but I could not put the book down. In fact just before the end I started again beacuse I didnot want to finish it! The romance for land lubbers of ships under sail is enhanced by the hard reality of life aboard. Who could climb the main mast - higher than Nelsons Column?. The only hint of the 'other' romance by the way was conjured up by mentioning his mothers friend - a picture in my mind! Sincere thanks to you Eric Newby. Man has sailed and written of it for centuries but I have only read one like yours. It will always mean a lot to me and if I have children I will read it to them - until they know it!
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on 18 January 2001
A stunning tale of adventure. Take a bunch of rough youngsters, an old tall ship, wild weather, and a trip from Ireland to Australia and back, throw in a boys gradual mastery of a dying skill (and of himself) and the early display of fine writing skills of the author, lots of humour, technical detail and an absolutely awesome description of a storm in the south sea, and you have an exceptional book, I read all night!
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on 24 July 2012
A first edition in good condition. I was very pleased with the service from this seller. A replacement volume for a copy lent and not returned.

This is the account of Eric Newby's experiences as an apprentice on one of the last 4 masted sailing barques, on a round trip to Australia just before the 2nd World War. It is very well written, and a foretaste of his illustrious travel writing career. It is a direct and vivid link to the harsh world of life on a large working sailing vessel, manned by very few sailors, and passing through some of the most inhospitable seas of the Southern Ocean. It makes today's gap year experiences rather trivial. It is well illustrated by Newby's own photograph, and as a tailpiece carries a sail and rigging plan of his ship, the Moshulu.

I thoroughly recommend it to anyone interested in the sea, sailing vessels, and/or the work of Eric Newby, one of the finest travel writers of his generation.
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on 9 May 2010
This book is a must for anyone interested in the story of sail. Eric Newby describes the hardships of life on a sailng ship, such as the very stern mates and skipper, the troubles with a foreign crew and lack of food and money. And tell's his climbing of the rigging and "learning the rope's" in great detail. He certainly makes you realise it's not such a romantic life as sometimes depicted. The only trouble with it is that it's not long enough. Buy it, you will not be disapointed.
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on 23 September 2008
I bought this having read a couple of his other books and having read an excerpt of this in 'A Merry Dance Around the World' and it is superb - interesting, enlightening and very funny and I loved it. And I am definitely female and not a sailor and have no desire to, just a love of good writing and also tall ships - read it girls and also his 'Something Wholesale' about the clothing trade it is again 'interesting, enlightening and very funny and I loved it' - give it a try!
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on 4 September 2002
Being an avid sailor myself, i approached this book with apprehension. However as soon i had finsihed the first chapter than was i drawn into eric's world. This book is as much a tribute to then endurance of man, as it is to the timeless square rigged tall ships and the crew that bravely man them. So engaging is the narrative that often you can taste the salt air and hear the sails fill with wind and feel the water about your ankles, and once again the crew lives. Finally a book you wish would never finish Hilarious, frightening and saddening in turns it's description of day to day life on the last great sailing ships is over all uplifting; i would recommend this book to both land lubbers and sailors alike.
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on 11 January 2011
In my opinion one of the most entertaining and inspirational books for a young person to read. Along with Laurie Lee's "I walked out one midsummer's morning" and Paddy Leigh Fermor's "A time of gifts" these books should be compulsory for every youth to read before they leave school.
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on 2 July 1999
Newby is a very good writer, interesting, amusing and self-deprecating. This is a classic - a fascinating account of a way of life in a big sailing ship that no one can experience any more. It's both entertaining and exhilarating.
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on 25 February 2001
Eric Newby, still in his teens in the early part of 1939, signs on as crew on one of the last great clipper ships making the grain run from Europe to Australia and back. This book chronicles, in hilarious fashion, the adventurous and sometimes perilous journey, from his first climb of the 198 foot mainmast while docked in Belfast, through the Roaring Forties with the giant waves threatening to poop the ship, and so to Australia. Cooped up with a cabin full of Scandinavians united only by their dislike of Englishmen, Mr Newby survives and eventually thrives thanks in no small part, we must conclude, to his sense of humour. Through the standard English modesty about such things, it is easy to appreciate just how difficult Mr Newby had it and how well he rose to the occasion.
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