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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb journey into the oceans of the mind
This is "can't put down" read, about the rather disjointed Golden Globe circumnavigation race of 1968-9 in which 7 sailors risked everything for themselves rather than for fame and fortune. You do not have to be a "Yachty" to read this! the book is about the drive and determination of men to reach inner goals. Peter Nichols writes in an easy to read...
Published on 26 Jun 2001

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Warning tale of life on the ocean waves
Enthralling tale of a group of competitive men's obsession with sailing round the world single-handed. Poignant, sad even tragic at times, it was a good read but left me wondering what it was all for. Quite well written, although editorial hands were often evident in the flow of the writing.
Published 18 months ago by Maxigriff


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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb journey into the oceans of the mind, 26 Jun 2001
By A Customer
This is "can't put down" read, about the rather disjointed Golden Globe circumnavigation race of 1968-9 in which 7 sailors risked everything for themselves rather than for fame and fortune. You do not have to be a "Yachty" to read this! the book is about the drive and determination of men to reach inner goals. Peter Nichols writes in an easy to read and at time quite light hearted way. One suspects that he himself has had brushes with madness on his various trans-ocean treks, Libby Purves comment that Nichols has a distain for Robin Knox-Johnson is in my opinion something that was not obvious. I would recommend this book as a 5 star plus read ideal for the beach !!!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant insight into public ocean racing. Must read story., 31 Aug 2001
By A Customer
More like fiction, but its accurate. The author has captured the spirit of ocean racing and the reason why men put to sea. I knew most of the yachtsmen he writes of, and for me it was a journey back in time. I too sailed some of the oceans and his descriptions are vividly real.
It's a must read for sailors, and for anyone interested in the sea and yachting. I was sorry to finish the book which read more like a fiction than fact, but its real though and as the nautical descriptions have been simplified for landlubbers its an easy and capturing read for anyone.
It's a good literary piece.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Madmen? Certainly - but noble and courageous too..., 10 Feb 2003
This review is from: A Voyage For Madmen (Paperback)
This is an amazing book about an amazing venture. In various points of the globe, a few rather odd people looked at Francis Chichester's circumnavigation - he returned to a certain amoung of fame and fortune, but he didn't do it non-stop. Just imagine taking it to the next stage, they thought...
All you needed then was for a UK national newspaper to decide that it was about time it sponsored a major sailing event, and the stage was set. Enter the players - here are just a few:
Robin Knox-Johnston, the Merchant Navy Chief Officer who had wanted to be in the RN and had a yacht he'd had built in India from plans he'd received by mistake.
Chay Blyth, the Parachute Regiment NCO who had rowed across the Atlantic and was looking for his next feat of endurance. The fact that he had never been on a yacht didn't put him off in the slightest. It did rather put him at the mercy of his boat supplier, and his trust there turned out to be misplaced.
Bernard Moitessier, the mystical Frenchman at one with the sea, never happier than when perched naked and alone at sea in the lotus position, to the consternation of his wife and family.
Donald Crowhurst, brilliant engineer, not-so-brilliant businessman, but with a sense of self-belief that caused everyone he met to get caught up in his enthusiasm for the race and his determination to win. In his pioneering multi-hull he could have been the fastest competitor - if his luck held and his dreams could be turned into working equipment.
This book reads like a thriller. Although it's very accessible to the non-sailor, it's also a rewarding read for those whose own experiences might help to understand a little better the psychology of those involved and the effects upon them of their experiences. The author pulls no punches in his descriptions of the personalities involved, and no-one named can have read this book without wincing in places. That said, everyone comes out of the story demonstrating extraordinary courage, even those whose lives were ultimately claimed by the event.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 10 Dec 2003
By A Customer
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This review is from: A Voyage For Madmen (Paperback)
This is a superb book, totally gripping. Much the best book on sailing adventures we've ever read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spellbinding, 16 Mar 2004
By 
Jo (West Sussex UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Voyage For Madmen (Paperback)
As a sailor myself, I found this book to be the best one I have read about the sport, and the mad people who share this passion with me. Buy It, Read it , tell people about it. I didn't do any work for two days - I just read. Thats my excuse for dirty decks!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book for sailors or anyone interested in adventure, 4 Jan 2002
By 
Mr. R. Holden "roger" (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
What made 9 men set off around the world non-stop single handed in 1968?
Nichols superbly delves into the minds and motivation of these men, what drove them and (in some cases) what killed them.
From the triumph of Knox-Jonhston to the tradegy of Crowhurst, Nichols gives enough facts to interest anyone and doesn't go into too much sailing details that might bore non-sailors. There are astonishing facts given (e.g. Blyth had only sailed 6 miles by himself when he set out), humourous accounts and eye-watering tales that make this book superb.
Nichols style is not to everyone's taste. A friend found "Sea Change" rather too sentimental but the emotion with which he writes is a real quality of the book.
It would make a GREAT film!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book That Every Man Should Read, 8 Jun 2011
By 
Balraj Gill (Slough, Berkshire, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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This review is from: A Voyage For Madmen: Nine men set out to race each other around the world. Only one made it back ... (Paperback)
I first bought this book almost 10 years ago, then gave my copy to a friend, who read it and then passed it onto someone else. Rather fittingly, it seems as if my copy has done its own round the world voyage, passing to people in places like Australia, Singapore, Ireland and the US. Heaven knows where it is now!

So I decided recently to buy another copy and re-read it to see if it lived up to the passage of time and my own decade old memories. I am pleased to say that it does and, if anything, I have enjoyed Peter Nichols' wonderful tale even better the second time around.

So why do I think that every man should read this book? Well, there can't be many men who have not thought at some time, to leave the mundanity of the modern world behind and see what the world has in store for them. Not just to sit on some paradise island, but to also push yourself to the limit, to see what your mind and body can cope with. A Voyage for Madmen provides a wonderful retelling of men doing exactly that, in a challenge that was open to everyone, not just professional sportsmen with hugely expensive equipment, as would be the case nowadays. Therefore, we have nine men setting out from England in boats to sail nonstop around the world, including one who had never sailed before, another who was a weekend coastal sailor and one who seemed to place most value on taking fine food and good wines with him in the boat.

And once all these men are underway, the book takes us through the whole range of human mental conditions that the competitors experienced - the soul-sapping loneliness, the fear of dying a watery death far away from loved ones, the romanticism of being at one with nature in the middle of the vast oceans and, most shockingly, the descent into utter madness brought about from the pressures of cheating and lying to the whole world. Yes, that's right - cheating, which was probably the most famous aspect of this race and the protagonist is probably the most (in)famous participant of any sailing race that has ever been held.

A Voyage for Madmen is one of those books that will live in your mind for a long time. It is a book that is funny, tragic and uplifting at various junctures, but it is always fascinating and I hope that many others will take as much enjoyment from it as I have.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A first class read ..., 1 Nov 2007
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This review is from: A Voyage For Madmen (Paperback)
I hate writing reviews, but a book this good deserves to be commended, and for the pleasure it's given me, I feel I owe it to the author, in some small way, to show my appreciation. For Peter Nichols is not only a seasoned sailor himself and so knows his subject well, but is also a very talented writer. His wonderful account of the 1968 Golden Globe circumnavigation race is beautifully told, a real adventure-packed page-turner that seamlessly weaves in the very diverse experiences of the extraordinary men who launched themselves into a venture that had never been done before, none of them knowing if it could indeed be done at all. From first to last Nichols skilfully laces the facts into an immensely readable narrative that keeps the reader glued to the page right to the last. It's a tale of courage and derring-do and self-suffiency and - in some cases - of extreme fool-hardiness and hopelessly optimistic naivety. Nichols' insight and sensitive appreciation of the personalities involved and the personal difficulties and mental hurdles each had to contend with in their respective journeys and battle with the elements, make for thoroughly engrossing reading. In fact, so enamoured with Mr Nichols' fluent and intelligently entertaining delivery am I, that I've since ordered everything else he has written. Now half-way through Sea Change, his autobiographical account of crossing the Atlantic in a little wooden schooner called Toad, I'm really glad I have. The man knows how to craft a tale and make it addictive stuff.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent gripping story, 24 Dec 2004
By 
Mr. D. J. Waddell (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Voyage For Madmen (Paperback)
I read this book with a little trepidation some time ago, but was instantly gripped by the storytelling. I am a sailor myself and took particular interest in the story, but eventually passed the book on to friends of mine (not sailors) who also enjoyed it. The story is true, although I supect the author takes some artistic licence in his telling of it. He does well to introduce us to nine very different characters (the race participants) who aim for the same goal, but with very separate adventures. The story bounces between each character in a way that seems to leave a series of intriguing cliffhangers throughout the book. A must read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Story telling at it's best, 11 April 2010
This review is from: A Voyage For Madmen (Paperback)
One of the best written and absorbing sailing books I have read. Simple as that.
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