Boon Island: A True Story of Mutiny, Shipwreck, and Cannibalism

Andrew Vietze and Stephen Erickson. Globe Pequot, $16.96 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-0-7627-7752-5
Although the shipwreck off the Maine coast of the Nottingham Galley took place in 1710, the authors—Vietze (Becoming Teddy Roosevelt) is former managing editor of Down East magazine, Erickson has a master's in American history—make it as real as today's news, drawing on several accounts by the captain, rebuttals by crew members, and even fiction stemming from the drama. Capt. John Deane portrayed himself as a great hero after his rescue from minuscule Boon Island, where his ship ran aground in the freezing winter. The first mate and other veteran sailors painted him as a "liar and a coward." The disaster itself gave rise to fascinating information about hypothermia, starvation, and cannibalism (the starving crew consumed the flesh of the ship's dead carpenter). The writers follow the men from the beginning of their journey, its strange perambulations, and the disaster, then through the rescue, the solace the crew received in Maine, and the continuation of their lives back home in England. Allegations of insurance fraud and the possibility that the English ship, for financial gain at an earlier date, could have made an agreement to be captured by French privateers create a maritime whodunit rife with twists and turns and high drama. Illus., map. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/12/2012
Release date: 10/01/2012
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