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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
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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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Location: Slough, Berkshire, United Kingdom

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