The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst

  • by Nicholas Tomalin, Ron Hall
  • Narrated by Philip Bird
  • 10 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Now a major motion picture starring Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz, directed by James Marsh (The Theory of Everything).
In 1968 Donald Crowhurst was trying to market a nautical navigation device he had developed and saw the Sunday Times Golden Globe 'round the world sailing race as the perfect opportunity to showcase his product.
Few people knew that he wasn't an experienced deep-water sailor. His progress was so slow that he decided to shortcut the journey, falsifying his location through radio messages from his supposed course. Everyone following the race thought that he was winning, and a hero's welcome awaited him at home in Britain.
But on 10 July 1968, eight months after he set off, his wife was told that his boat had been discovered drifting in the mid-Atlantic. Crowhurst was missing, assumed drowned, and there was much speculation that this was one of the great mysteries of the sea.
In this masterpiece of investigative journalism, Nicholas Tomalin and Ron Hall reconstruct one of the greatest hoaxes of our time. From in-depth interviews with Crowhurst's family and friends and telling excerpts from his logbooks, Tomalin and Hall develop a tale of tragic self-delusion and public deception, a haunting portrait of a complex, deeply troubled man and his journey into the heart of darkness.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Many Lessons In This Excellent Book

Donald Crowhurst proves that highly intelligent (and brave) men can make many bad decisions, leading to ultimate failure. This brings into question: what really is intelligence? The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst is a fascinating account of his last voyage. Taking part in the global race was not enough for him. Deceit and ramblings about disembodied intelligence are consequences of his vanity. Nevertheless, all fascinating stuff. A very interesting but deeply flawed man. The best decision would have been to wait the following year to embark on the race but to Donald Crowhurst, hesitation was minus time and action plus time. Neither he nor the boat was ready. There are many lessons in this book.

My rating: 5/5. Highly recommended.
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- Simon Zohhadi

'Tremble for the Man'

Since the disappearance of Donald Crowhurst at the end of the 1968-69 Sunday Times Golden Globe round the World Yacht Race, there have been all kinds of recreations in fact and fiction. This comprehensive and definitive account of Donald Crowhurst's voyage and of the man and his mind was published in 1970 by Nicholas Tomalin and Ron Hall and has been released as a download in advance of The Mercy, the new film with Colin Firth as Crowhurst.

As a sympathetic, insightful and scrupulously researched account, it is excellent. Crowhurst, the adventurer, larger-than-life, clever, mercurial, set off on the race completely unprepared and by today's standards, inexperienced in his barely finished catamaran to sail single-handed across some of the most dangerous oceans of the world. The letter he left behind for his wife Clare to read if he did not return is loving and moving and shows a serious and apparently well-balanced mind. By the time he slipped into the waters of the Atlantic 243 days later he was well advanced into 'time madness,' into which lone sailors can descend, which led Crowhurst to be believe he was some kind of god or cosmic being who had unwrapped the secrets of metaphysics.

The authors have scrutinised every word of Crowhurst's voluminous log books, both his 'real' ones and his 'fake' log books with which he intended to fool the race officials that he had indeed circumnavigated the world and not merely circled aimlessly around the Atlantic. As an intimate insight into Crowhurst's mind it is brilliant, and listening to his agonies in 'life's tortuous game', you cannot but feel a terrible pity for him caught in the hideous position he had made for himself. As his arrival in Teignmouth approached closer and closer and radio messages reported the hordes waiting to welcome him it becomes almost unbearable. His obsession with Einstein fed his delusions and madness which in the end clouded even his deep love for his wife and children who were waiting to welcome him home.

It's a very fair, undramatic book (there's drama enough in Crowhurst's life) and the final assessment that he fell short of his own vision is a fitting epitaph. The narration is first rate and captures the whole spectrum of Crowhurst's feelings as his mind disintegrated.

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- Rachel Redford

Book Details

  • Release Date: 15-12-2016
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton