The Custom of the Sea
By Neil Hanson
Wiley, Hardcover, 9780471383895, 315pp.
Publication Date: March 1, 2000
List Price: $24.95*
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"The nightmarish events of the shipwreck are reported with real power."-New York Times Book Review
Adrift at sea, your food and water gone, you are slowly starving to death: what would you do to survive?
On May 19, 1884, the yacht Mignonette set sail from Southampton, England, bound for Australia. Halfway through the voyage, the crew were beset by a monstrous storm off the coast of West Africa, and the Mignonette was sunk by a massive forty-foot wave. Cast adrift a thousand miles from landfall with no food or water and faced with almost certain death, the captain resorted to a grisly practice common among seamen of the time: the "custom of the sea." While the others watched, the captain killed the weakest of them, the cabin boy, and his body was eaten. In this riveting account of the ordeal of the crew and the sensational trial that followed, Hanson recreates the shocking events that held a nation spellbound. Drawing from newspaper accounts, personal letters, court proceedings, and first-person accounts, he has brilliantly told a tale rife with moral dilemmas.