Is there any tale more thrilling than a shipwreck? Disaster at sea is an ever-present peril, inspiring ancient legends, great works of fiction, and countless yarns of deadly typhoons, vessels consumed by fire, and desperate castaways alone on an empty ocean. Before Homer composed the Odyssey, sailors were already telling their terrifying stories, and Anthony Brandt has culled only the very best for this essential and engrossing chronicle of shipwrecks through the ages.
Brandt’s selections range from the apostle Paul to Mark Twain to the Titanic disaster. The Tragic History of the Sea draws from tales around the globe: the doomed Medusa, whose survivors were abandoned to their fate by a cowardly crew, to live on only in a famous painting in the Louvre; the infamous Essex and her fatal cruise which inspired Melville’s Moby Dick; and the harrowing wreck of the Wager, which left the earlier Lord Byron, the poet’s kinsman, starving on Patagonia’s bleak shores.
A riveting anthology of high adventure and astonishing survival against all odds, this storm-tossed voyage through history’s gales and across unforgiving seas represents the best of a storytelling tradition that goes back centuries. Each extraordinary tale is linked to the next by Brandt’s expert annotations and commentary, which sets them in context, provides a wealth of maritime and literary background and places this volume of shipwreck tales in a class by itself.