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Selkirk's Island (VOYAGES PROMOTION) Paperback – 3 Jul 2003

4.0 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix; New edition edition (3 July 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753813343
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753813348
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 232,992 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Amazon Review

Diana Souhami's Selkirk's Island is not the first book about the extraordinary, real-life adventures of the Scotsman, Alexander Selkirk--that credit must go to a rather better-known book, Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe. Nor, doubtless, will it be the last. But it might be the best. Diana Souhami's book commands superlatives for every reason. The author of previous, outstanding biographies, including the prizewinning The Trials of Radclyffe Hall, Souhami has produced a marvellous account of what life was like on the remote, rain-swept (not desert) island of Juan Fernandez. Selkirk chose to remain on the island in 1704, when he sensed that the piratical voyage he had joined himself to was sinking fast. His shipmates sailed on and left him. For four years he survived in total solitude, hunting the wild goats on the island and clubbing them to death, building a hut from the branches of sandalwood trees, and making fire with dry sticks. Souhami brings everything to life with vivid, imaginary vignettes: "A boa constrictor arrived coiled in the hollow of a cut tree. It had journeyed from Brazil for seven weeks over choppy seas. The tree washed ashore with the turning tide. It sloughed its skin and danced alone." When at last two ships sailed into Juan Fernandez's tiny harbour, quite by chance, they found a bearded, savage-looking man, who could only utter the one word: "Marooned!" Souhami is brilliant on the natural history, on the physical details, on the sheer, intractable character of the material world that Selkirk had to deal with--and all these things demand that you, the reader, ask yourself: "Could I have done this? Would I have survived?" This is what makes Selkirk's Island compelling, fascinating reading, and the three double-page colour photographs of the island are breathtaking. --Christopher Hart

Christopher Hart. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

SELKIRK'S ISLAND by Diana Souhami FMCM Again we are setting an end of month press date for this title with confirmed publicity in Guardian My Life In Writing (20/4), The Herald's My Favourite Book (4/5), and BBC Radio 4 Open Book (21/4) and Excess Baggage (13/4), with local radio including BBC GMR and Austrian Broadcasting Company plus BBC World Service's Outlook (25/4). Plus the shelflife interview for The Scotsman (27/4). And reviews are now coming in: 'This book not only illuminates Selkirk's five years as a solitary castaway - the experience inspired Robinson Crusoe, though Defoe did not include any reference to sexual congress with goats - but also probes the circumstances that led the disputatious Selkirk to this predicament and what happened to him afterwards'Independent "The gripping and true story of Alexander Selkirk, more famous as Defoe's Robinson Crusoe." Daily Telegraph "His story still holds thefascination that inspired Daniel Defoe to write Robinson Crusoe... meticulously researched." Daily Mail 'To Souhami, the island itself is a character, its flora and fauna and dramatic weather changes so evocatively described...Butshe is good at all levels: delving into contemporary sources she explores Selkirk's aggressive, resourceful and complex character, and writes vividly of the horrors of shipboard life and the venality of some of those who set sail in search of riches'Sunday Times Souhami tells the story of the real-life Robinson Crusoe in terse, well-judged prose, and explores some of the ambiguities of his exile: although desperate to be rescued, he also achieved a kind of spiritual at-oneness with the island. She also provides many colourful details about eighteenth-century sea-life: the horrific illnesses and injuries, thevicious squabbles, and the general contempt for human - especially non-British - life'Observer 'Souhami's research into contemporary political and maritime matters is admirably wide ranging'The Times "Whitbread biog of the year, Diana Souhami's examination of Alexander Selkirk and Robinson Crusoe is a glittering assembly." Time Out - Paperback of the Week. '...an unusual and engrossing book...It is a great tale and Souhami tells it crisply and well.'Sunday Telegraph

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